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Sunday Old School: Origin

Death metal has more sub-genres than Eskimos have words for snow. While it is, of course, a sub-genre of heavy metal of itself, there are so many different categories death metal groups get put under, it borders on ridiculous. The likes of Septicflesh are classed as symphonic death metal, Behemoth as blackened death metal and At The Gates as melodic death metal. One of the most respected of these offshoots however, is technical death metal, so named for its superb and intelligent musicianship and today we'll be looking at one of the most popular of these bands, Origin.

The seeds of the band, (I refuse to make a pun on their name) were sewn when guitarists Paul Ryan and Jeremy Turner began jamming together in 1997, eventually deciding to expand into a full band by recruiting bass player Clint Appelhanz and vocalist Mark Manning in October of that year, with drummer George Fluke entering the fold the following January. After securing an opening spot for Suffocation, the quintet recorded a demo, "A Coming Into Existence," which gained enough popularity for them to be booked on the Death Across America tour, which also featured Nile, Cryptopsy, Oppressor and Gorguts. A little while later, Appelhanz and Fluke were replaced by Doug Williams and John Longstreth respectively and following more high profile shows, including one supporting Napalm Death, Origin signed their first record deal with Relapse Records.

They released their self-titled debut album in July 2000 and promoted the record with a number of festival appearances and tours, including a second Death Across America tour, this time with Polish stalwarts Vader, along with Dying Fetus and Cephalic Carnage, before embarking on a headline tour of their own. Their debut was to be their only release with Manning, who was replaced by James Lee and Doug Williams, whose place was taken by Mike Flores.

With a new lineup in tow, Origin returned to the studio to record their sophomore full length, "Informis Infinitas Inhumanitas," which was released in July 2002. The album was notable for including samples from the movies Dogma and Interview With the Vampire and received a slightly warmer reception than its predecessor. Origin once more were invited to take part in high profile tours, including one in the summer with Arch Enemy, Hate Eternal and Nile, which was their last to feature Jeremy Turner, who decided to leave the group once they returned home. Former bass player Clint Appelhanz was brought back, this time as a guitarist and they once more hit the road, this time with Immolation, Vader, and The Berzerker.

Problems then arose within the origin ranks, leading them to cancel a tour with Nuclear Assault and replace John Longstreth with James King, who made his debut with the band at a home town show in Topeka, Kansas, where they filmed a music video for the song, "Portal." Touring would then take up most of 2004, leading the group to begin recording their next album, "Echoes of Decimation" at the end of the year. The album itself received something of a mixed reaction from fans, though it has since gone on to receive a generally more positive response from fans. Part of what made the record such a talking point was the use of arpeggios in riffs instead of solos and being performed on bass as well as guitar.

By now, Origin's profile had risen considerably, leading to a headline performance at the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, as well as the Ohio Deathfest and toured with Malevolent Creation and Animosity. After this, James King and Clint Appelhanz left the group to join forces with another Origin alumnus, Jeremy Turner in Unmerciful. For a while, Paul Ryan handled all the guitar duties live and John Longstreth returned behind the drum kit. Surprisingly, the role of Origin's second guitarist was to be taken by none other than Jeremy Turner and somewhat reunited incarnation of the band would then record the album, "Antithesis."

"Antithesis" proved to be a landmark album for the band, seeing them enter the Billboard charts for the first time and garnering mostly strong reviews. The success of the album had a lasting impact, with the cover featuring in posters in such movies as Gamer and The Crazies, as well as being named one of the top 100 death metal albums by Decibel magazine. It would however be their last record with vocalist James Lee, who was fired in late 2010, as well as their final release with Jeremy Turner who left that same year.

As a result of the loss of members, Origin would record their fifth album, 2011's, "Entity" as a trio, in which Ryan not only performed all of the guitar parts but also acted as the group's vocalist. It was their first record through their new label, Nuclear Blast and soon after it was released, the band found a new permanent vocalist in Skinless frontman Jason Keyser, who joined in time for Origin's North American tour with Vital Remains and Hate Eternal, which took place shortly before a European tour with Australian group, Psycroptic and Belgian grindcore act Leng Tch'e.

The first Origin album to feature Keyser, "Omnipresent" was released in 2014 through Agonia Records in Europe but was not as well received by fans as the group hoped for, with a number of fans claiming it to be mediocre at best and the weakest output of Origin's career. Nonetheless, the band took to the road heavily once again, performing at a number of festivals as well as tours, all the while plotting their next release to prove the doubters wrong, which may well have arrived merely days ago in the form of their seventh album, "Unparalleled Universe." The record has so far received some very good reviews and gained mainstream attention for the guest appearance of Orange is the New Black actress Jessica Pimentel on the closing track, a cover of the Brujeria track, "Revolucion." While the legacy of the new album won't be known for a while, it seems to have restored Origin back to their place as one of technical death metal's most revered bands.

Origin - "Socioide"

Origin - "Portal"

Origin - "Staring from the Abyss"

Origin - "Finite"

Origin - "Expulsion of Fury"

Origin - "Absurdity of What I Am"

Origin - "Cascading Failures, Diminishing Returns"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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