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For bands operating in the technical and progressive death metal worlds, master-level proficiency is assumed: these genres connote boundless seas of talent displayed prodigiously across shifting meter lines that rise and fall like slabs of earth in the throes of a vicious quake. The musicians who apply themselves to this style routinely push the limits of their minds and bodies in the process of crafting, recording, and performing the music in their heads -- behind this, and often fueling their dedication, is the exuberance that comes with pulling off such technical achievements.

Now, enter Pittsburgh-based seven-piece outfit Equipoise and their debut full-length Demiurgus: a death metal album where unbridled technical joy is placed front-and-center. Equipoise's music is a testament to the rush of excelling at these levels and to the skill and discipline that make its very existence possible. Check out an exclusive premiere of the album's third track “Alchemic Web of Deceit” below.

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“Alchemic Web of Deceit,” which also appeared on the band’s 2016 debut EP Birthing Homunculi, returns on Demiurgus with a makeover, reborn with live drums courtesy of Hate Eternal and The Faceless alumnus Chason Westmoreland. The record "will take you through a journey inspired by the anime series Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood with lyrics masterfully crafted and executed by [vocalist] Stevie Boiser," says guitarist Nick Padovani. "The material on this album is a logical progression from [the debut EP], further exploring the use of nylon guitars, fretless bass, and symphonic elements. Every track was carefully crafted to maintain a cohesiveness that complements the sinister subject matter."

More so than the wizardry of guitarist Padovani’s compositions or the baffling dexterity of his six bandmates, the defining quality of Demiurgus may very well be the tangible fun the band has creating this insane music together. The record is so over-the-top and so ridiculous in scope, yet simultaneously so tastefully refined, that there's little choice but to shake your head and smile. Before long, though, and through fluid progressions of staggering proficiency, the acoustic guitars from the song's introduction reappear to conclude "Alchemic Web of Deceit," guiding the listener gingerly by the hand toward home. These acoustic segments represent a touchpoint of familiarity after an exhausting but thrilling journey while the song's elements remain precisely aligned in perfect balance.

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Boasting members of Beyond Creation and Chthe’ilist -- both with acclaimed death metal releases last year -- Equipoise is a formidable collection of talent. If there’s any group with both the proficiency and musicianship to envision (and then realize) the material on this record, it’s this assemblage of some of death metal’s brightest minds. "Ambitious" is certainly a word well-suited to describe Demiurgus, but saying so barely scratches the surface of what the band has achieved here.

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Demiurgus releases on March 8 via The Artisan Era in double vinyl, CD, and digital formats. Pre-orders are now available on Bandcamp. The album's tenth track is already live with an accompanying video:

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