Reaped Upon Reflection is a jolting and honest glimpse of the innermost workings of the human condition. It shares a well-deserved place in the realms of both technical death and progressive metal that deem it a worthy listen for anyone hoping to headbang their stressors away.
One reason I believe metal is so attractive to many is its ability to make the listener feel empowered. The heavy riffs and blast beats provide the perfect foundation for some excellent headbanging material. The genre that draws me in first when I’m in the mood for this is some good ol’ technical death metal. And with their newest release, Reaped Upon Reflection, Mirthless does not disappoint.
Reaped Upon Reflection is the second full-length album by Lawrenceville, Georgia natives Mirthless. Ranking in similarity to the gruff sounds of Allegaeon and early Rivers of Nihil, they certainly have the driving force to make it just as far. Reaped Upon Reflection immediately starts off with a quick throat-punch on the track “Unfeigned Purpose” which seems to center around themes of addiction or an internal struggle, and the effect such actions have on oneself and those around them. Vocalists Eli Roberson and Yousef Jeddi deliver forceful growls and harmonies to offset the strong melodies of Jeddi’s guitar. Then, the album takes a pleasantly surprising turn on “Tethered to a Trigger” with an uplifting and folksy, symphonic violin outro courtesy of Roberson. However, we are thrown right back into the fire with “Lucid Terror”, which rings true to its name, as it evokes a sense of a sleepless cacophony, rearing to cause chaos and bewilderment in its path. Then, the track listing proceeds to thoroughly jolt the listener to wake with “The Means for Peace”.
Technical death metal was among the first genres to fully get me hooked into the metal scene, so even though bands catering to this genre get a lot of flack for ‘all sounding the same’, it will always remain very dear to my heart. In my opinion, there is a great deal of interest and intrigue to be found in any of the more technical sub-genres of metal, as it seems easier to hear every single note and melody the rhythm has to offer. The lyrics, of course, typically hold darker themes within them, but Mirthless pans across an interesting spectrum with Reaped Upon Reflection of dealing with the inner dilemmas man faces throughout a lifetime. While self-reflection within music is not a new idea per se, Mirthless tells the story in a powerful, reverberating way.
The insane blast beats of drummer Matthew Carmichael on “Anhedonia” keep the power trip alive as we are hurled through the sky, only to be caught up in the complicated web of “Eyes Over Shoulders”, with its ear-melting polyrhythms and bass slides. The album allows for just a short breather on “The Seeds of Enmity” and “Bereft”, with long riffs encased by sharp, hard-hitting unclean vocals. Then, finally, we are laid down to rest on “The Circle” as our journey through the innermost depths of the human psyche have come to accept the world around itself.
While I would say I am fairly seasoned in the sound of technical death metal, Mirthless hit a slightly different-in-a-good-way tone for me. Reaped Upon Reflection leans more on the progressive side of metal, and I found that aspect of this album thoroughly enjoyable, along with the overall structure of lyricism and musicality. Sometimes, you hear an album and it just does not flow together the way an album probably should, but that is not true in this case. The phrase ‘tiny, but mighty’ comes to mind with this band, and they will certainly stay on my radar from now on.