Review Summary: Seriously, this is one massive Sci-Fi mindf*** of an Instrumental Album...A good kind of mindf*** though
Initially, when you hear a band name like "Amogh Symphony", or an album title as ostentatious as "The Quantum Hack Code", you can often be misled into passing thoughts of such a band being as ridiculous as anything from Symphonic Goth to something to the liking of a Baliwood String Phil-Harmonic. But make no mistake; Amogh Symphony and it's mastermind Vishal J. Singh (and accompanying drum-wizard, Jim Richman), are here to make a very profound statement in the world of Instrumental Metal....And "profound" may yet still be an understatement, considering the vast array of amazingly tasteful Guitar and Bass lines used throughout, and rather surprisingly interesting storyline used as the backbone to the musical content contained within the unexpected masterpiece that is "The Quantum Hack Code".
It should be noted that, it is very likely that this album will take many complete play-throughs to fully understand exactly what all is going on within each song. In this sense, it would appear that Vishal's Guitar & Bass skills are surpassed only by his skills as a Composer, as it almost instantly becomes apparent that there is a very thick level of sound layering happening throughout this entire album; Even the sections within the songs that are comparatively calm to the rest of the sections, the attention to detail in subtlety shines through just as purely as the complex sections do. Such noteable sections are within songs such as: Intro-The Fall Of World Defence System, Dvorzhetskii's Prophecy, X-Karna: Activated, and The Collapse Of Q-Web & Osiris 1. With parts like the beautiful Bass Line-Lead and the following Guitar Solo/Flamenco Solo around mid-way through X-Karna: Activated, and the obscenely clean Flamenco Solo near the end of Polymorphic Infection: Releasing Proteus being a prime example of Vishal's true capabilities as both a Musician and Producer/Composer.
Amogh Symphony's sound has quite often been compared to Animals As Leaders, in terms of sheer guitar work. And, while they do indeed share a basic genre of Instrumental Metal-based music, upon further inspection of Amogh Symphony's material (especially The Quantum Hack Code) it becomes harder and harder to compare the two bands. Considering that it's rather hard to deny that Animals As Leaders (in comparison) is rather minimalistic as far as what all is going on in any given song. This is not to say that Animals As Leaders aren't still amazingly talented, but when you compare Tosin Abasi's guitar playing to Vishal J. Singh's you hear that Tosin is a far more agressive picker than Vishal is, and this can be heard in his playing - This gives Animals As Leaders overall sound a much more agressive and crunchy tone, while I suppose you could say that Amogh Symphony is the elegant/flambouyant and crisp-sounding counterpart to Animals As Leaders in that sense. This is merely to gain a sort of perspective on Amogh Symphony's overall sound, I love both bands immensely.
Another relevant note to address, is that this album, along with it being nothing short of Metal Sub-Genre Gene-Splicing, also has a backing story with narration preceeding each song that all ties together.....Truthfully, when I found out about this, like most people may be, was almost immediately ready to put the album down and move on to something else. This, of which I can personally attest to, would be a massive mistake and you would be depriving yourself of what is quite honestly, a very engaging, interesting, and unique story. The story itself, I can only describe and relate to as being a very interesting, alternate-version of how The Animatrix would end. The narration is done by a woman, which quite often gives off a false-impression of the upcoming song being weak and feeble sounding; Which, in turn, actually makes each proceeding song sound far more engaging and agressive than initially percieved ~ A good example of where this is apparent, would be: Osiris 1, The Quantum Barrier Code Interpreted By Mainframe, and The Nullification Method: Oni vs. Proteus......
On the opposing end of that, there are other areas of the album, where the womans Narration of the album, in fact accentuates the feeling and mood of the song to come, showing that Narration within Metal albums can, in fact, be used tastefully; Such songs involving this level of accentuation would be: Polymorphic Infection: Releasing Proteus and Decoded: Karnosiris.
While The Quantum Hack Code is many things as far as Sub-Genres go; Death, Tech, Math, Prog, Psychedellic, Fusion etc etc etc.... One facet of this album I never expected to hear, was the strong influence of Industrial/Electronica/Remixing that is prevalent through various parts of the album ~ This was another thing that I was not immediately fond of, as I myself am not usually a fan of things that are involved in Metal and sound too "Digital" if you will (See Morbid Angel's "Illud Divinum Insanus")....Here again, I was almost instantly shut-up, as I continued to listen, I quickly realized that the sections of the songs that do involve such sounds and remixing, are not done gratuitously or self-indulgently, and serve nothing less than to further accentuate both the song itself as a whole, and the story as it unfolds within the music, after being prepped with the Narration as a template for the music's direction... Nothing at any point, even during the obviously remixed sections, still sounds all that "Digital" or fake...Even during these remixed and digitalized areas, it still somehow comes off as sounding completely natural to the album. This is why I feel that the Narration within The Quantum Hack Code is a rather rare exception, and is also necessary for the true purpose of the album to be understood, and actually FELT, rather than simply heard. Both the Instrumentation and Narration work off of each other, and at the same time, accentuate each other, giving each other meaning and context. Examples of this can be found in songs such as: Osiris 1, Polymorphic Infection: Releasing Proteus, and Decoded: Karnosiris.
Finally, on the less interesting subject of the actual Instrumentation of the album; It can be noted that, Vishal himself did the recordings for all the Guitar work, all the Bass work, any and all of the other various stringed instruments that make appearances on the album, and all of the Sound Engineering, Producing, and Song Composition himself. Leaving all of the drum work (yes it's a real drummer) to drum-wizard, Jim Richman (ex live performances with Arsis and Immolation, and session work with Blotted Science) for the unnaturally impressive drum-work on The Quantum Hack Code.
Ultimately, while this album can be overwhelming at times in it's sheer audacity of the amount of content to deal with on each song; After 1 complete listen through, I confidently say that it wont be your last listen, as there is a strange allure that this album has, both in it's message, and it's execution of instrumentation. Seriously, this is one massive Sci-Fi mindf*** of an Instrumental Album...A good kind of mindf*** though haha....Be you fond of the Narration or not (of which I am now immensely fond of), it's almost impossible to deny the exemplary level of the musicians performances at any given point during this album. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of books or music in general...ESPECIALLY fans of Instrumental Music.