The Machinations of Dementia
2007, Eclectic Electric
Blotted Science, "The Machinations of Dementia"
Ron Jarzombek (Watchtower, Spastic Ink, Gordian Knot) has a new album out, and Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) plays bass on it? I'm sold already. Hold on... AND Charlie Zeleny (Behold... The Arctopus, Jorden Rudess) on drums? As a recent graduate of the Keanu Reeves School of Emoting, let me use my new found knowledge to fully express the awesomeness of this album.
Exactly, Mr. Reeves. Whoa indeed. Ron's guitar playing is well known to those of us who knew and loved Watchtower and Spastic Ink... technical, precise, and always interesting. So it's really no surprise that the prog-metal guitar work cooked up in the Blotted Science labratory is of superior quality. And I'm very familiar with the skinjob precision of Charlie Zeleny, who must dream of electric sheep every night. Yes, I'm accusing him of being a cybernetic life form. Charlie's drumming is different here than with his main band, not quite as spastic but still busy, busy, busy.
But the biggest surprise for me is Alex Webster. Sure, I've been a Cannibal Corpse fan for-freakin'-ever (I can still remember the horrified look in my ex-girlfriends eyes when I brought home the uncensored "Tomb of the Mutilated"... thank you, Vince Locke!) but I had no idea that Alex was even interested in prog-metal. And man, he's a powerhouse on these songs, thumping stoically along until there's a little space created for him and filling it with cool bass riffs. Check out how he picks up at the 3:00 mark in "Synaptic Plasticity" and carries the song for a few bars. Nice.
These sixteen songs are all instrumentals, blistering packets of super condensed musical explorations. Ron's guitar plays a very prominent role in each song, of course; strong rhythm guitar and just unbelievable leads. "Laser Lobotomy" drips leads like poison onto Loki's face. In "Brain Fingerprinting" he pulls off riffs I'd have to see to believe. Precision and speed are nothing without some thought and feeling, and it sounds to me like Ron and his fellow lab rats weren't just randomly filling beakers with cool green glowing gunk. Occasionally some parts seem to be a bit daft, like running scales over drum patterns ("Activation Synthesis Theory") and this is where I lose focus. Luckily, these moments are few throughout the songs... even in "Activation Synthesis Theory" the part I don't like is followed up by a lovely bit of technical grindage.
Bottom line is that if you like technical metal instrumental albums, you can't go wrong with a guitarist like Ron Jarzombek. Add in a rhythm section that can work out in any weird time signature or bizarre chord pattern and you've got a winner. My only caveat is that this music won't appeal to everyone. What is an amazing display of fretwork prowess to me is boring wankery to others... but to each their own, right? I love it, and anyone who liked Ron's previous projects will dig it as well.S.Gregory