is the brainchild of Sean Malone, formerly of Cynic. It is him along with other amazing innovators in the prog metal genre playing what they want, how they want.
Sean Malone (Cynic) Ė Bass, Stick, Keys
Sean Reinert (Cynic) Ė Drums, Tabla
Trey Gunn (King Crimson) Ė Warr Guitar
Ron Jarzombek (Watchtower/Spastic Ink) Ė Guitar
Glenn Snelwar Ė Guitar, acoustic guitar
John Myung (Dream Theater) Ė Stick
This is a serious all-star line-up.
Iíll explain ďStickĒ. It was invented by Emmett Chapman and is often called the Chapman Stick. That is what I first heard it as when I went to a Blue Man Group concert and had my uncle (a retired hair metaler) explain it to me. It is a 10 string guitar that uses both hands to tap around instead of using a pick like a normal guitar. For more information go to [url]http://www.stick.com/[/url]
A Warr Guitar is a 12 string guitar similar to a Chapman Stick except that it uses 6 bass strings and 6 guitar stings. Trey Gunn is probably the most well known player of a Warr guitar and is also the only person to have their own artist model. For more information go to [url]http://www.warrguitars.com/[/url]
Tabla is a percussion instrument from northern India used to accompany the sitar. Danny Carey of Tool plays this instrument too as does his teacher, Aloke Dutta. There is the Dayan and the Bayan (Right and left hand drums). The Dayan is about 2/3 the diameter of the Bayan.
Just under 1 hour
, the album begins with a soundscape of squeaks and squeals and low drones. Itís pretty interesting but nothing special. Good opener. Code/Anticode
though, launches you straight into the guitars. An interesting riff is quickly joined by the rest of the band. This being an instrumental album, the band has to keep changing and playing interesting parts to keep things interesting. They do an excellent job. There is an interesting jazz/fusion type section in this song and the really do a nice job showing what youíll get. There is lots of riffing but also lots of mellower soundscapes. This is a pretty jazzy song and you only get a taste of the metal to come.
begins with a great chord progression and you can hear the metal. A nice part about the album is how they arenít afraid to really use every player. These guys are great and do a great job playing what they know how to. Glenn Snelwar did most of the writing on this track and it shows. He is the resident classical/acoustic guitar player and has a nice repeated riff that really holds this track together. Another jazzy track but leaning more towards metal. Megrez
begins much like the album with a feedback/noise soundscape that flows into some slow riffing. One of the mellowest songs on the album. The bass in this song is killer.
is a strange track. Very metal but with a Hammond organ sound in the keys. Itís nice how you can sort of tell whoís playing what. I have a strong feeling that the solo here is Ron Jarzombek. In fact every time I hear a shred solo, I have a feeling itís him because I donít know if pinch harmonics can be done on a Chapman stick. There are also stick solos though that are really cool. This is a very solo-y song. A great part is the rhythm shaker part. You know the little eggs with sand in them? Yeah, those. This a an excellent song. Itís a great one to know what this CD really sounds like. Redemptions
way should be named the Tabla song. Itís so cool. This is another great song. Sort of a tradition on this album it seems.
Komm SŁsser Tod, Komm Sel'ge
was actually written by Bach but Gordian Knot made it their own. It does feel a bit too slow and gets cheesy. In my opinion, the worst song on the album, worse than Galois and that isnít even a real song. Rivers Dancing
is an excellent one though. Very atmospheric and quickly tears into some great riffing. There is a trade off part where Iím not sure who but I suspect John Myung and Sean Malone switch back and forth. Same sound on the instruments and they both play stick, but I canít be sure. The song takes a great break to slow down and present more melody then picks up again, then slows down again. The song ends somewhere in the middle.
has a very Middle Eastern/Indian feel. I definitely like it. It is also the longest song on the album by almost 2 minutes. I have a feeling it is Glenn Snelwar who does the imitation of Sitar just because of what I read on his website. He seems to be the most versatile guitarist in terms of style. This song is a must for Tool fans. It uses the slow build to heavy formula and is very reminiscent of the Reflection/Disposition/Triad section. The song could get repetitive but there are lots of little changes throughout. It takes the last 45 seconds to die down and fade away.
, an apparently hidden track, begins with some acoustic guitar sounds but they have a strange tone so I think itís probably a Stick through an acoustic simulator pedal. This song has that cheesy positive feel of 80ís easy listening. Iím not really a fan. About halfway through, it begins to sound like church music which is much more interesting especially with the organ sounds. The song finishes in that style.
The semi track by track.
This album is great but has a few spots where it sound really cheesy. Itís unfortunate too because the rest of it sounds so good. The musicians all come together really well though and when the songwriting is good, which is most of the time, they sound amazing.