When it comes to technical death metal, I often feel like I run through a familiar set of responses. A brief amazement at just how proficient the band are as musicians soon gives way to boredom and disappointment as it becomes clear that, whilst those involved have mastered their instruments, they have not mastered – or even become vaguely proficient at – writing decent songs. Pronostic buck this trend on self-released album An Atomic Decision, successfully blending incredible technical proficiency with actual songs, rather than mere collections of riffs and sweeps. Add in some tasteful melo-death elements, and a few moments that even come close to modern power metal, and you have something breathtaking in its prowess, and commendable in its consistency and accessibility. And given this, it makes most technical and melo-death seem dreadfully dull and boring in comparison.
There’s no sense beating about the bush: if you haven’t been in to technical or melo-death before, then An Atomic Decision probably isn’t the album to change your mind about those styles. But speaking as someone who has relatively little appetite for either sub-genre, it’s taken quite a hold on me, and didn’t take long to dismiss my initial concerns. Each song is packed full of riffs and movements that actually serve a purpose, moving the track forward rather than acting as a way for the band to indulge in some musical masturbation. Furthermore, whilst Pronostic avoid repeating themselves and going around in circles, each track manages to have a consistent feel and tone – even more impressive when you realise just how many elements are at play in each song. Given this, it means that An Atomic Decision is an album that has enough variety to stay interesting, but is also consistent enough for each track to work with the others.
That might not all be apparent on first listen, though. As there’s so much going on it can be hard to process it all on initial listens, and instead the listener will simply be swept along by the energy and sheer thrill that Pronostic produce. But given time and repeated spins, some of those extra elements that give An Atomic Decision such staying power become clear. The guitar leads are a particular highlight, adding both extra power and an almost emotional edge to tracks such as “Derived Conscience”; whilst penultimate track “Reality” features the kind of dueling guitars that bring to mind classic heavy metal (think Iron Maiden), albeit updated with more modern, extreme edges.
Whilst An Atomic Decision is undeniably an intense record, and the tempos are largely incredibly fast, Pronostic put in enough moments of contrast to stop it being exhausting without threatening to bog the album down. Mid-point instrumental track “Menstrumental” slows things down slightly, and flows nicely into “Becik”, which is a definite highlight for the way its opening minute slows the tempo down without sacrificing any intensity.
Given all of this, An Atomic Decision is the kind of modern tech-death album that has both the musical and songwriting talent to appeal to both core fans of the style, and listeners such as myself who often find the genre a turn-off. It never feels self-indulgent or like it is showboating for the sake of doing so, and it is clear that Pronostic have put time in to ensuring that the songs actually work as, well, songs. If any complaint is to be made, it’s that the bass is not really prominent enough, as this is a genre that allows for so much to be done with the low-end, and the brief moments where the bass does shine through are incredibly promising. But, all things considered, this is a relatively minor complaint. An Atomic Decision is such an intense, thrilling listen, that any complaints of this nature feel irrelevant. Instead, you’re best off settling in for 41 minutes of blistering metal, and enjoying the ride. When it’s this good, it’s hard not to.
An Atomic Decision is available to stream and download through Bandcamp, and can also be purchased on CD through Bandcamp.