Canvas Solaris



by Bartender EMERITUS
January 16th, 2005 | 3 replies

Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

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.

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user ratings (5)

Comments:Add a Comment 
Dancin' Man
January 1st 2005


Still sounds like something I'd like. The poor quality will turn me off though.

May 13th 2014


The tracks on this CD represent some of the most brilliant songs that this band ever released and Spatial Design is easily one of the finer releases in the field of instrumental progressive metal. Each track on the CD is better than its predecessor and while track 1 is excellent in its own right, track 4 is nothing short of orgasmic and in my opinion is one of the best instrumental pieces ever released. Its too bad that it could take months...even years to memorize the song titles but who cares.... what do the titles mean anyway? The sound of each instrument is discernible and among the technical and catchy guitar solos, solid bass playing and fine drumming we also get a fair amount of synths thrown in to create a dreamy atmosphere from time to time. I disagree with the reviewer in that there is a huge contrast in mood within each track varying from soft and dreamy to melodic and engaging to all out technical bliss. Also, there are multiple tempo shifts and variations in heaviness within each track. Each song goes through a delightful shifting array of twists and turns and gradually builds to a thundering climax then ends in a soft and/or melodic flurry or interlude. Most importantly, the songs are extraordinarily well constructed and never fail to keep the listener engaged and/or in awe even after many listens. The songs flow extremely well and you never get the feeling (like you do with so many technical metal and technical death metal releases) that the band just threw random pieces together in order to create songs that are spliced together with adjacent sections that sound that they could be in different songs. Canvas Solaris were excellent song writers and very impressive and capable musicians who were able to create songs that were technical, catchy, well structured and amazing. My only gripe with the CD, and its an important one, is the production. The rhythm guitar sounds way too crunchy and at times even comes off sounding like background static! If this CD could be re-mastered it would merit at least a 4.5. As is, this is a great debut from a band who actually recorded a progressive metal song with death vocals called The Flesh Sequence well before this was released. While that song was good, Spatial Design represents a vast improvement from this early song and an excellent release which could have been exemplary if not elite had it had a (much) better production.

You can listen to the CD by visiting


You be the judge!

November 3rd 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

rips dude what's up with that 3

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