I’ve been surprised at how few high rated and popular tech death albums there have been this year. Ad Nauseam is the only one I can think of, and that’s very nontraditional album for the genre, or any metal record for that matter. So I took the opportunity to check this out, and I must say I’m very pleased with what I heard. Tech death is a genre I fee pretty comfortable dealing with, and I can firmly say that Acolytes Eternal is edging for one of the top tech death AOTYs. One of the most important things this album does right is making riffs that connect with each other, rather than just being spurts of separate, unrelated riffs that don’t make sense together, which is a common tech death mistake. It also has in my opinion, the perfect guitar tone for this kind of music, very sharp precise, and clean. I do feel like there isn’t nearly enough harmonic variety in this album however. It feels like you’re going back and froth between the same two, maybe three chords each time in a song. The only sense of progression is through the riffs and when harmonic pattern abruptly changes. It doesn’t really feel jarring at all, but it is noticeable when you listen closely. There’s also this interlude in the middle of the album that’s a mixture of ambient and spoken word, and it feels not necessarily out of place, but it feels unnecessary. It kills a lot of the momentum the album has, and just left me confused as to why it was there. A 33 minute is short enough that it doesn’t need an interlude anyway. Regardless, while the tech death pickins have been slim this year, this is one of the few albums that really stands out above the rest. There are some truly beautiful riffs and moments here, and while it’s not top shelf by any means, it’s certainly worth a listen if you’re a fan of tech death.