If you've read my fairly brief review of Canvas Solaris' previous release, the [url=]Spatial/Design EP[/url] (I'd suggest doing so before reading this), you'll know vaguely what I thought of it; potential for brilliance, which managed to end up somewhat less than brilliant. Well this is where that potential is put to much better use.
Canvas Solaris started off some five years ago as a four-piece group, with a vocalist and everything. Early demos (apparently) laid the blueprint for what the band was about; complex, technical music with a great focus on actually being good to listen to, with highly developed conceptual elements to the song titles, liner notes and, presumably, lyrics. However, lineup changes soon occurred which reduced them to a trio, and although Nathan filled in on vocals for a while, they soon abandoned that in favour of a fully instrumental approach. And so they have remained since.
Before we get to the actual music, it's worth noting how much of an improvement Sublimation
is over Spatial/Design
in other ways. The cover art, for one, is great (call me shallow if you like, but these things matter). The nebula-style cover art of Spatial/Design
was all well and good, but the "blue fire" design (it's actually space, again) here is just awesome. The track names, too, strike me as a great improvement. They're just as pretentious, but they're more memorable, and as before, they're not just randomly pretentious - they have meanings behind them. Whether Canvas Solaris write songs based on concepts or crowbar the concepts they're interested in into already written songs is unknown to me, but whichever it is, the concepts themselves are certainly given adequate thought. I won't even begin discussing them here, since even a brief overview would probably lead to several thousand words of talking about literary theory and astrology; the band's favoured subjects of thought. My favourite title here would be Ekstatik Parataxis (The New Measure)
, especially having snooped around the apparent background to it. If Canvas Solaris ever get even remotely well-known, I hope they release a big boxed set, full of music and essays and things.
Anyway, music, that's what we're here for. The leaps and bounds taken onward from the Canvas Solaris of the Spatial/Design EP
, especially considering the short time between the two releases (18 months, at most), are incredible. Each band member seems to have learnt to play about six new instruments (and, from interviews I've been reading, are still learning even more. Especially Hunter), and the whole songwriting process seems to have been pushed into overdrive. The most immediate comparisons to be made are Cynic and, especially, Gordian Knot. Maybe also Spastic Ink, although, excellent as Ink Complete is, there is often the feeling that one member or t'other is just showing off, most often Ron on guitar. Here, there isn't anything like that, the whole seems to be considered by concensus more important than any individual part. The comparison to Cynic/Gordian Knot is also somewhat less than perfect, though; Canvas Solaris are more aggressive. Rather than taking so many cues from fusion, as the aforementioned bands tend to, the primary metal influences are (in their own words) "mid-period Carcass, Voivod, "Need to Control"-era Brutal Truth, "Morbid Reality"-era Hexx and Godflesh". By the same token, though, since then they've changed slightly so that they don't play aggressively (or in ultra-complex mode) non-stop; they like to give the songs some dynamic, some room to breathe. To play in more than one way, basically. This means they may not appeal to people who demand their technical metal be non-stop, or who want metal to be 100% aggressive, 100% of the time. But who really cares what people like that think anyway?
The result is an album that is basically just gorgeous and engaging throughout. When Solar Winds Collide
is one of the best songs, instrumental or not, I've ever heard. Thinking back to improvements outside of the music, another one now springs to mind - the title. In the context of the music, Sublimation
is the best title they could have chosen, because that is what has occurred. In real Nietzschean fashion, they have sublimated their aggressive tendencies into a more dynamic, more fulfilling, and ultimately finer form of art.