Canadian tech/progressive death metal outfit, Pronostic, return this May with their second full-length album, the forty-two minute Chaotic Upheaval. Self-published, it’s the band’s first full-length release since 2015’s incredible An Atomic Decision. Reviving their aggressive take on Quebeçois tech, the album features ten outstanding tracks that showcase a spectacular revisiting of the band’s athletic instrumentation, fantastic songwriting, and melodeath bounce.
Time has been incredibly kind to the tech death and progressive death metal scenes. With emphasis on extreme musicianship, an agnostic approach to engineering and production styles, and wide acceptance of elements from other genres, it holds a timelessness. Many of the early 2000’s best releases still hold up. This era saw offerings by Cryptopsy, Arsis, and Necrophagist that impress today with zero asterisks or hints of anachronism. In the best ways, Chaotic Upheaval feels like it stepped right out of that era with its hooking riffs, harmonic homages to Death, and insistence on incredible guitar solos that buck some of the trending sterility and wank.
That said, Chaotic Upheaval is still a release that demonstrates Pronostic‘s growth. Elements that were less significantly stated or not present on An Atomic Decision are utilized to incredible effect. On this relatively short album, saxophones, incredible clean guitars, orchestral passages, and varied vocal styles all make appearances. While this may sound like there’s a danger of the band going full “spaghetti at the wall”, each is used with deliberate taste and only serve the compositions with their inclusion. When combined with the band’s dueling “high/low” harsh vocal style and haunting fretless bass, there is genuinely no dull moment on the release.
The opening track, “Indefinite Continuity,” encapsulates the aforementioned changes. It’s a song that energetically sets a high bar–an absolutely killer band has returned in nothing less than triumph. When the intro ends and the song kicks into full-gear, the listener is treated to the outstanding piano performance of Fleshgod Apocalypse alum, Francesco Ferrini, arpeggiating alongside the breakneck riffing listeners can expect from the writers of An Atomic Decision. And what an absolutely monstrous drum performance by Santiago. Fuck yes.
The first half of the album continues in this vein, oddly consonant and perhaps even heroic in tone for a tech death release. It then breaks momentarily for the addictively melodic instrumental, “Waves”. It’s at this point that “Bare and Wretched” shifts the album onto a slightly heavier and more contemplative course that still lets up for some unexpected and exciting break-through guitar passages.
The production of Chaotic Upheaval strikes an excellent balance between rawness and polish, allowing the band’s musicianship to shine. The guitars are crisp, the drums powerful, and the vocals cut through just right. There is a bit of a “thinness” to the sound that I think serves to keep the album from sounding too sterile or over-produced, but I do wonder just how “big” Pronostic could sound on an alternative mix, especially with the orchestral inclusions.
Overall, the listening experience of Chaotic Upheaval goes by quickly, and can be described as “a fucking blast”. On my first listen, when final track, “Abstract Entity” faded out with another beautiful, haunting piano passage, I genuinely didn’t realize that the whole album had finished. So hooky, fun, and dynamic is the songwriting, that it all kind of just blurs by on dedicated listens.
With the incredible strength of today’s major tech death releases, you gotta love seeing a criminally underrated outfit like Pronostic standing with (or dare I say exceeding?) the best of Buried Realm, Archspire, or Cattle Decapitation, but still firmly keeping their feet planted in their own sound.
This is now the second album that Pronostic has blown me away with. While I greedily wish for a more rapid release schedule, I have to accept the reality that one can’t always rush something of this quality from a band that is admittedly very busy living their lives.
Ten out of ten. Up there with the genre greats. I’ll fight anyone on that.
Favorite Song: “Massive Disillusion”. Probably the most experimental piece on the entire album, it confidently bookends the best elements of the band’s previous release in the first and last minutes, while shifting to some incredibly well implemented clean guitars, sax solos, and the GANG VOCALS?
For fans of: Gorod, (later) Death, and Allegaeon
1. “Indefinite Continuity”
2. “Massive Disillusion” feat. Sam Hampell (saxophone), Morane Chabot (guitar solo), Krissy O’Shaughnessy, Fannie Tassé Lessard, and Alex Pelletier (vocals)
3. “Conclusion Impromptue”
4. “Concealed Parasite” feat. Christian Donaldson (Cryptopsy) and Marc Roy (Killitorous) on guitar
6. “Bare and Wretched” feat. Alex Pelletier, Fannie Tassé Lessard, and Krissy O’Shaughnessy (vocals)
7. “L’impureté Globale”
8. “Drained by Remorse”
9. “The Pure Celestial Being”
10. “Abstract Entity”
Where to get Chaotic Upheaval:
Charles ”Butcher” Pilotte – Low Vocals / Guitar
Alex Lauzon – High Vocals / Guitar
Xavier Sperdouklis – Fretless Bass (Killitorous, ex-Ignominy)
Chaotic Upheaval‘s lineup includes:
Samuel Santiago – Session Drummer (ex-First Fragment, ex-Gorod)
Francesco Ferrini – Keyboards & String arrangements (Fleshgod Apocalypse) on track 1, 4, 6, 7,10