If there is one album that I have heard that purely embodies the art of true musical ambitiousness, this is it, hands down. This is the Creme de la Creme, the excalibur, the life-force, the libido...there is nothing "diet" or "quasi" about this. I might even say that it is the most unique, advanced, and rewarding album that I have ever heard in my life. One is not likely to come across something like this in an entire lifetime, its genius was certainly not meant for any kind of "mainstream" audience either. Most Metalheads would not want to even accept that an album like this even exists, being all "misanthropic" and whatnot. I've directed people to this who simply scoffed and said "too technical". I just wanted to pull on their ears and scream "LISTEN, for the love of GOD!". This is far beyond what could be written off as "technical for the sake of it". In fact, it's in reviews like this that I really wish I could have you hear the album as I reviewed it...I'm feeling very inadequate here...hold me!
OK, a brief band history: only three members, on guitar, Ron Jarzombek, the mastermind behind WATCHTOWER, the late 80s (newly-revived) Technical Metal-relic of the underground, praised by just about anyone who's ever heard them (Not me, when I had seen/heard them on the "Bang Your Head"-festival I almost had to be carried off to hospital because of severe tying up of my brain! - Alex). On bass, Pete Perez of RIOT, and on drums, Ron's brother Bobby, also of RIOT- and HALFORD-fame. Each musician is skilled to the thousandth power and beyond, as anyone familiar with these men should know already.
Opener "The Mad Data Race" is like a showcase of sorts for this fact...this is where the review gets tough...*inhaaaale*...OK, my best description would include an amalgamation of meter/tempo changes, obscure, lightning-fast melody lines, polyrhythmic stop-start unison runs, bass and guitar solo tradeoffs. This IS, in a big way, musically indulgent material, but with enough listens (like 10,000 or so), one can begin to see that this is so far beyond that! "A Wild Hare", for example, takes an 8 minute segment of the movie "Bambi" (the scene with Thumper), transcribes the film score to guitar/bass/drums, and includes the pitch and timing of the dialogue played on guitar, as well as sniffs, throat-clearings, and so on. You could play the song to the video and it would match the film score...That, in itself, is an unprecedented accomplishment in the "progressive music"-category, reason enough to buy the album, and Bambi, to hear/see for yourself (I haven't done this test yet, but one day...).
In "A Morning With Squeakie", Jarzombek tries his hand at his own cartoon score, and the result is simply mindblowing. Then there are the beautiful melodies of "To Counter And Groove In E Minor", which are a sound to behold, or the insane musical gymnastics to be found on "Suspended On All Fours", or the humbling "Mosquito Brain Surgery", all works of the highest level, transcending genre, description, and classification altogether, affording them the most rewarding title of "pure innovation".
The bass/drum-unison-lines are of special note, with a precision that can only come from two musicians jamming together as long as Perez and Jarzombek, which brings me to Bobby Jarzombek's drumming (yes, it was imminent). At any given time, he weaves the most intricate-yet-complementary web of percussive finesse around the music, with the most eloquent cymbal/snare-work imaginable. It's almost as though he has ESP with Perez and his brother, and they just play on that alone, even though I know this is not the case (hint: there is a reason this band is called SPASTIC INK, as apparently most of this album was written by exchanging bits of sheet music in the mail). I would really love to think it's all ESP though, I couldn't imagine someone having to SIGHT READ this stuff!?!?! And do not, repeat, DO NOT get me going on the drum solo in the 7th song, oh lordy lordy loooooordyyyyy, I gotta go shit now.
This review would have to be longer than Alex has time to translate in order to encompass my TRUE feelings about this, but I think I've scratched the surface (of the surface of the surface of the.....). So, if you are adventurous, or have even the slightest inkling to challenge your own inner status quo to the fullest extent, then my friend, do not hesitate to seek this out at all costs. It has ended up being one of my most prized discoveries (music or otherwise). This deserves no less than a perfect 10, but only because I'm not allowed more. "Perfection" just doesn't sum it up, as genius knows no measurements. In fact, what am I doing reviewing this? I could have just said "it is imperative that you hear this now", given it the 10, and been on my way...