SummaryPleasant collection of autistic digressions
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The guitarist from 80’s prog metal band ‘Watchtower’ gets together with Cannibal Corpse’s Alex Webster on bass and the drummer for tech prog act ‘Behold the Arctopus’ to write a debut instrumental album for their side project ‘Blotted Science’, and globally it’s pretty much what one might suspect it is. The album consists of heavy chunks of metal rhythms serving as a foundation for the starring lead guitars and their innumerable moods, on what is a record very pleasant and natural to the ear production-wise and resolutely unnatural to the ear musically.
Most of the rhythm work is purposely wobbly, like it sits on unsteady structures on the brink of collapse yet held together somehow in the end. The chugs often come across as unfinished riff ideas that keep looping in odd time signatures and timings; all part of the show, of course. Webster’s bass presence adds an interesting dynamic and depth to the rhythm section with its subtle metallic buzzing and tight grind at the back of the guitars. The drums are the characteristic stammering clinic associated with the style, with a super tight sound that’s strongly compressed yet organic that makes them feel light and mobile rather than stall the music with an overly thick presence in the mix; a potentially foreseeable side-effect given their work rate, that was well sorted out here.
To be blunt about it, this basically often sounds like a modern metal version of King Crimson, coupled with flashes of 80’s lead-oriented prog metal soundtracks, and then the occasional surprise of more extreme sections – the tracks at times throwing in an outright death metal part with tremolo picking over blast beats. The leads like to go crazy with full-fledged math metal gymnastics during the wilder moments, or awry more dissonant mid-paced oddities alongside a trademark octave-harmonized slew of diminished-scale phrasings.
The album distills a myriad of musical moods, but one could surely say the common denominator is a certain dark color in atmosphere from track to track. To be clear, this wouldn’t qualify as “extreme metal” per se, although an argument could always be made it is on the basis of its erratic nature and bludgeoning effect on the listener, and it certainly is no picnic of an experience. More to the point, this is dark-tinted progressive metal with an emphasis on producing aural illusions and dizzying experimental trances that mean to keep the audience on alert, constantly soliciting their utmost attention rather than putting them in a comfort zone with a consistent smooth evenness track in track out.
The material on here in that sense isn’t merely eccentric, it pulls the listener in with counter-intuitive melodies and rhythms purposely designed to be disruptive and unsettling. It makes it a hard rule to never give the audience what it might be expecting and circumvents the foundational principle for all music to have a natural continuity to it (with a possible exception for the clean guitar spells), which ultimately makes it anti-music in at least that one dimension. Or just plain autistic. Either one.
So this is what a full instrumental metal album made by three guys with Asperger’s syndrome might sound like if you cared to find out. High IQ, low social/interactive skills and lots of notes. But an odd coherence linking all those notes. And a full 16 tracks and just under an hour in length, that still avoid sounding dull and repetitive, even towards the end. An intriguing endeavor to be sure, even for the full instrumental album skeptic.
Release date: September 18th, 2007
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