Yes, more really technical metal. Settle in for a short review; it's only an EP, and anyway, in truly bad reviewing form, I'm going to be more or less writing it in conjunction with/reference to another review at the same time.
Okay, get this: these guys are smart. I don't just mean street-smart or anything either, I mean genuinely, egg-head style clever. Even with Spatial/Design
, a four-track EP, exploring the concepts contained within the song-titles and the relatively brief liner notes and diagrams (the music itself is entirely instrumental) would takes many, many hours of work. The work that has gone into thinking such things through is both admirable and awe-inspiring; I know, without boasting, that I'm of something above average intelligence, but I don't even pretend to understand most of this. I know who Derrida is (briefly), and what pi is, and so on, but it's all so beyond me that I can but admire it, as people are wont to do.
You can see that Canvas Solaris want you to know that there's something clever going on, even if you can't understand what it is. The song and album titles (and even the band's name, to some extent) are of that unsettlingly familiar style of bands who want people to know just how high-brow/cool they can be through determined obscurity. Normally, I love that kind of thing (earthtone 9 fan since my early days of liking music), but here, they just don't seem to work very well (the exception being The Non-Terminating Integer
, which (having had it explained to me) is a very cool title).
Still, awesomeness considerations aside, I'm here to talk about the actual music, for the most part. Well, to put it simply, it seems to mirror the problem with the track titles. It's of a kind I usually enjoy: highly complex instrumental metal, somewhat in the vein of Gordian Knot/Cynic, or maybe even parts of Spastic Ink, when Ron eases off on demonstrating his guitar skill. All the right elements are there, just for some reason I don't enjoy it so much; all the parts which are "right" in Sublimation
(the follow-up album to this) don't seem to be so here. Crucially, they seem to be going in for the all-ahead-technicality-all-the-time approach which many technical metal bands, in my opinion, suffer from. There's no great variation, no contrast, and therefore no balance, and no dynamic. The production manages to make each instrument individually clearly audible, which is important for this style, but still manages to sound slightly fuzzy, lower in quality, overall, presumably due to them being young, unknown and more or less broke when they recorded it. It all just falls a bit flat.
That's not to say that the album is a total waste, though. Quite the opposite, in fact; this is a very talented and fairly imaginative group, they know how to create genuinely interesting music, and more than once they strike the right mixture. They just don't do it enough. It's a little bit down the list, but Spatial Design
is still a release worth owning for fans of technical metal. For more casual listeners, I'm not so sure.