Morbid Angel to Archspire is an interesting shift – from morbid dissonance to morbid like precision in about 30 years. There are numerous incremental steps between them, but this systematic dial up in technical intensity is a broader pattern evident across all metal genres. But, whether this is a progression or regression is a matter of perspective. Definitely there is no absolute hierarchy for benchmarks, they are always personal and often idiosyncratic.
These broader genre shifts are eventually propelled by all aspects of the music industry — listeners, artists, labels — everyone plays their own structural role. Within the economic constraints of the real world, music evolves only when all the involved factors reinforce each other. In other words, independent of our personal opinion, aggregate benchmarks are constantly emerging. It’s sort of a dispersed process with its own layered feedback loops. Artistic shifts experiencing positive feedback simply thrive. And in turn also become a factor propelling broader genre trajectories – just like any other interconnected ecosystem.