Anup Sastry - Illuminate - (9/10)
Published on June 27, 2019
Genre:Progressive Metal / Djent
Anup Sastry is one of my favorite progressive metal drummers. If you’re familiar with names like Monuments, Intervals, Skyharbor or Devin Townsend then you probably already listened to him. But apart from these bands that he worked with throughout the years, Anup also put together a series of really juicy solo releases. After one full-length and three EPs all instrumental, “Illuminate” is his first release with vocals, delivered by a number of great guest vocalists.
Anup’s drumming and compositional style is djent all the way, but it doesn’t fall into any predictable pattern or genre cliché, mainly because the man’s creativity is endless. His playing is very dynamic, progressive, groovy and intricate and he puts up an impeccable balance between catchy and complex. Trying to closely follow what he does, listening to the patters on the pedals or just trying to dissect his parts to hear all the details is a real brain burner. And yet when you put it together, it’s extremely engaging and oftentimes great headbang material. On top of that comes a multitude of layers of programmed instruments. All bass, guitars, piano and orchestrations are programmed by him. Now I know listening to sampled music might seem a bit like a “fake” but in his context it makes perfect sense because it doesn’t sound like something that’s supposed to be played by a human. He wrote some impossible sliced and techy djent parts and gave them such a distinct electronic sound that the obviously unnatural, computer driven vibe of it actually becomes part of the music’s AI type personality. He also added a great deal of orchestration that adds a lot of volume and also amps up the dynamic effect of the music. And this is where he also dropped some really tasty, almost singable melodies.
Then we get to the vocalists. This EP features guest appearances from Chaney Crabb (Entheos), Andy Cizek and Mike Semesky (ex-Intervals). That adds up to a very satisfying and quite diverse amount of cleans’n’scramz that give lots of ups and downs, not allowing the music to get boring for a second. It also means there are some pretty catchy choruses in there (the one on “Illuminate” is my personal favorite). Two songs however were left instrumental. One of them is “Origin”, the intro track and the other one is “Counting Eyes” featuring a fantastic guest solo from Arch Echo guitarist Adam Bentley.
All this is wrapped up nicely by Anup’s extensive knowledge in mixing, mastering and just delivering good sound quality. It sounds very full and clearly defined, allowing all the different details to get noticed. Amp it up with the orchestrations, add some choirs and backing vocals and you’ve got yourself a sick sounding massive wall of highly refined yet brutally ballistic djent! I don’t think this release lacks anything. It’s finger-licking tasty!