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To put it simply, this is the most accomplished technical metal release ever created.
While the genre of technical progressive metal has gotten a bad name in the eyes of some for it's typically overindulgent and mindless showboating and lack of substantial depth, there will always be bands, or albums that really excel and break through the barriers of convention to deliver something that really blows the doors away. While the metal world is full of greatly talented, skilled and even genius musicians, I will admit that there have been only a handful of albums that have impressed me so much on a musical level in instrumental metal, and arguably none that have blown me away as much on a technical level as Blotted Science does however. While this is not going to be the order of the day for everyone, 'The Machinations Of Dementia' is easily one of the greatest instrumental albums ever made.
Essentially the brainchild of virtuoso guitarist Ron Jarzombek (of Watchtower/Spastic Ink fame), Blotted Science was created out of the urge to make a progressive metal supergroup of some of the most talented and skilled musicians in the scene. What might come as a bit of a shock to the progressive side of the prog metal scene is that the bassist chosen to be part of this project is Alex Webster, of Cannibal Corpse. While Cannibal Corpse isn't exactly known for their penchant of thought-provoking themes and music, they are indeed talented musicians and Alex Webster's frantic bass work steals the show here. With a presence much greater here than on most other albums, the technical bass display adds a dimension to the music that really compliments Jarzombek's left-of-center guitar playing. Add in some near-obsessive mathematical drumming from Charlie Zeleny (of Behold... The Arctopus) and Blotted Science comes together to produce something that is nearly unparelleled in terms of it's complexity and chaos.
Although the music is entirely instrumental, the concept of mental illness and psychology flows throughout the album, as is conveyed through the song titles. As with all great concept pieces, the music reflects the nature of the subject matter; frenetic work, crushing heaviness and mathematically impossible polyrhythms give 'Machinations' a very unsettling and disturbing feel to it. While there are a few tracks that stand out on their own as individual songs ('Laser Lobotomy,' 'Night Terror') the album generally flows together as a long piece. While such complexity and technicality can be overwhelming over the course of fifty-odd minutes, the high level of compositional quality and experimentation lies throughout.
Possibly best described as an 'instrumental technical death metal' album, Blotted Science gets very heavy amongst the technicality. 'The Machinations Of Dementia' is an insanely complex and immersive listen. Any fans of progressive metal should find something to love here, but make no mistake; you'll be exhausted by the end of it.
Wow! What else could we say, listenning to any of the 16 tracks on the album The Machinations of Dementia by the band Blotted Science? Or supergroup should I say.
This band is a three-piece-band. On the bass guitar, we have Alex Webster, from Cannibal Corpse, on the drums, we have Charlie Zeleny from Behold... The Arctopus and on the guitar, who else then Ron Jarzombek, the brain behind the progressive band Spastic Ink.
After only a few seconds in Synaptic Plasticity, we can feel the death metal influences in their music. While these influences cannot be ignored, I don't think the band should ever be classified as such. They are still mainly, a prog band. So this is definitely Ron's most agressive and most heavy record so far. There is a reason why I'm starting my review with some little info on Jarzombek. Ron Jarzombek being the mastermind of this project, it's essential that we start with him an mention the incredible song-writting on this album. Listenning to Ron Jarzombek's solo project, I can easily recognize his song-writting. I can easily say that this is my favorite work by him so far, though. His talent really does shine on The Machinations of Dementia. Even though the guitar really stands out on this album, Webster's bass work won't go unnoticed. Laser Lobotomy starts out with a great guitar riff, but in a matter of seconds, Webster joins in, adding so much heavyness and so much power to the song. Another one of my favorite moments on this album is the intro of Narcolepsy, on which Webster starts by stalking the guitar, following Ron's melodies, but then delivers an heavy blow, just to catch back with the guitar again. If sometimes Webster stalks Jarzombek, it's obviously not true for the whole album though. At the beginning of Amnesia, he starts with his own awesome line, until the guitars join in. He then starts to blow over Jarzombek's crazy ass guitar solo. That's when you hear how so many years of death metal can come in handy.
If the bass and guitar are so amazing, what could we possibly expect from Zeleny? Well, nothing more than what he gave for this record. And well, anyone who's heard their work, knows he can deliver and add up to the great ambiences on the album.
Talking about ambience, the whole album revolves around some psychological, sleep and brain related themes. And while their music is all instrumental, you can still find links between the different titles and the songs. Night Terror, is probably the most fitting example to demonstrate my opinions on the matter.
I mentionned the death metal influences of Blotted Science earlier, but this should in no way, stop anyone from listenning this album. And while you can find some death metal influences in the guitar riffs and bass line, most of these influences are to be found in the drums. As I said before, this is more prog than it is death metal. While Spastic Ink was a great prog metal project, Ron Jarzombek's greatest work is to be found on this album. Zeleny and Webster really did help him to push this even further, making it one of the greatest progressive metal releases to this date.
This one, is definitely a gem that should shine in any prog fan's library.
Forming a band with three very talented individuals can go one of two ways: Producing excellent music, using the full potential of each member, or fail miserably under the weight of expectation. Thankfully, for Blotted Science, the former occurs, and what we are presented with here are 16 tracks just bursting at the seams with technical flair and instrumental wizardry.
Blotted Science is a three-piece band with Ron Jarzombek (Spastic Ink, Watchtower, and about 100 other projects), Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal), and Charlie Zeleny (Behold… The Arctopus). So as you can already tell, the experience and musicianship here are pretty much second to none. This is enough to make your head implode, due to the sheer amount of quality behind the music. BUT so much quality doesn’t automatically equal a good album, as we all are fully aware. In this case, they are all used very well, and the songs are very interesting enough to keep the listener happy.
The guitars are what you would very much expect from Ron Jarzombek. If you have heard his work on Spastic Ink, then what you will find here is something similar, only heavier. He can definitely solo, and most of his solos are very melodic. However, it’s his riffs that really steal the show. Recalling a riff once the album has ended will be difficult, but that doesn’t mean they are bad. It just means there’s a lot happening. He is very technical, and pulls it all off flawlessly. Tracks like Synaptic Plasticity, Activation Synthesis Theory, and Amnesia are ones that stand out for me in terms of the guitar work, but every song can hold their own. There is also an excellent riff at 1:45 on Night Terror which is very catchy.
The bass is very busy, also. Rather than just follow the guitars all the time, the bass is sometimes an entity on its own, which is great, because Alex is one hell of a bassist. His obvious highlight is the beginning of Amnesia, where he creates a great bass line, then goes into the main riff of the song. One of the best parts of the album, indeed.
The drumming is another highlight, as well. Not many drum solos in the album, but there doesn’t really need to be, as they are busy all the time anyway. It’s difficult to pinpoint any exact sections as to where he shines brightest, but that’s because he is constantly changing tempos and adding fills all over the album. His fastest work would have to be on the track Amnesia, where he blasts very quickly over a fast guitar riff. He just excels everywhere.
The songs themselves are seemingly random pieces of notes and riffs haphazardly connected together, much like Spastic Ink and, especially, Behold… The Arctopus. However, looking deeper into them will reveal that they are less haphazard and more clever. How the band members can remember each song is a feat on its own, so that further indicates the technicality on display here. The production is very clear, and everything can be heard as equally as each other, which is a great bonus, considering the type of music they play.
Coming in at 16 tracks and just under an hours running time, the album can seem quite an exhausting listen, and it is. They should’ve cut 10 minutes off, and it would’ve been much better. However, there is a lot on show here. It sounds like they had a blast recording this stuff, and if you love this sort of thing, then you would be a fool to pass up Blotted Science’s debut album. Here’s hoping they record some more stuff in the future, as this super-band has a lot of creativity still left in them.
Best tracks: Synaptic Plasticity, Night Terror, E.E.G. Tracings, Amnesia
If you're in any way familiar with the work of Ron Jarzombek, you'll already know that it's not quite normal. 'Control and Resistance' spun the thrash blueprint on its head, and Spastic Ink still comes off as quirky as ever (this coming from someone who once mixed vodka and tomato ketchup to try get something resembling a Bloody Mary). Anyway, I'd been searching for videos on youtube and saw a few clips of him chugging away on some riffs for a new project. Fascinating as always, though cursed by being too damn short.
It dropped under my radar for some time, and while I was napping, it turns out plenty was cooking. Monster bassist Alex Webster (you know him) was already on board, which should have been enough to get a curious look-see from the metal community at large. Drummers had come and gone, till the spot was finally firmly taken by Charlie Zeleny from Behold...the Arctopus. Just so you know, any band with an ellipsis in their name is likely to be whack. Anyway, if you've heard any of their stuff, you should be reassured that the man can handle the weirdness.
Ok, now that I've got the easy stuff out of the way, I suppose I'll have to get around to the music. Doing a song by song analysis is near impossible here, since this project has very little to do with individual songs and more about an all-out sonic assault on your senses. This is probably the least accessible music he's made, edging out 'Ink Complete' by a narrow margin. The thing with the other albums (barring the above mentioned) is that the presence of vocals, no matter how off-kilter, more often than not has the tendency to bring a more coherent pattern to the fray. Here, on the other hand, you have close to an hour of instrumental mayhem with no respite - it's not for the faint hearted.
Reading the song list, you might be fooled into thinking is a family-friendly goregrind band for shrinks. For that matter, it might just be. You see, the theme presents all sorts of mental phenomena and illnesses, which the music more than adequately manages to convey. In the sense that if you stay up late, on the verge of sleep while listening to this, and then check the song title of whatever is currently you're playing and see something like 'Laser Lobotomy', you'd think that sounded about right.
I think of listening to this album as being stuck in a car with these three whackjobs. A muscle car with no brakes, hurtling down a cliffside road. You can't stop it, can't pause for a breather, can't sit back and enjoy the view (except for the few moments when they decide to crash into a conveniently parked petrol pump for a change of pace) - all you can do is scream "I love this shit!" and hope it doesn't kill you.
Jarzombek is honest-to-god insane. It's like he hates playing the same riff more than once, and just keeps lining up the most twisted guitar riffs in his arsenal back-to-back at breakneck speed till you go bonkers trying to follow the trail. And the solos have no problem keeping up, hurdling jagged rhythms with mind-boggling accuracy and more than a hint of goofball mania. Webster holds his own, doubling over the guitar rhythms nearly all the time, which is pretty stunning considering he's a plucker. He's given free space some of the time, which he uses to great effect, most notably in 'Amnesia', where, if you're the kind who likes to connect the dots, the bass noodling could be construed as a hat-tip to Cliff Burton and 'Anesthesia'. Just a theory. Zeleny rounds off the rhythm section by doing a solid job, never really taking too much attention away from the main event, but adding his own mix into the maelstrom.
This is definitely not for everyone. It's loud, manic, technical and unpredictable noise. But for those who that doesn't scare away, it's worth the venture.
Wow, of all the people to come together to make an instrumental group. Another wow to how good the music they make together is. This is one album that must be heard to be believed, as Blotted Science is one very amazing instrumental act and is truly capable of crafting amazingly good music. It's off the wall progressive, yet a lot of the time it is downright brutal and hard to comprehend how much skill is put into this band. Something that really needs to be heard to believed.
The mastermind behind Blotted Science is a little known Texas guitar great named Ron Jarzombek. Yes people, it is Ron not Dimebag who is the best guitarist ever to come out of Texas. Now for all of you people who know (or don't), Ron has played in various bands like SA Slayer (only called SA Slayer because the real Slayer copyrighted the name so they couldn't be just called Slayer), which even included some of the same death metal type lyrical themes of Slayer (such as gore, torture, mutilation etc etc. No anti Christianity for all you people who dig that stuff). He was also the mastermind behind Spastic Ink, and later he would come into one of the most famously underrated metal bands of all time, Watchtower. Ron has quite a bit of experience under his belt, so forming an instrumental group is no problem for him. He's really the star performer here, as he shreds away with probably hundreds of off the wall time signature changes, crazy melodies, insane licks of shredding and downright instrumental brutality. Well if Ron is going to be brutal with his skills, he might as well hire brutal musicians.
Where better to look for brutal musicians, who are used to playing brutal music, then the massive American death metal community.
And who better to pick up the Cannibal Corpse (and Hate Eternal session) bassist Alex Webster and ex Hate Eternal, Malevolent Creation, Nile, and everyone else and their brother's extreme metal band's drummer, Derek Roddy!
These two don't really need much explanation. We all know Alex Webster to be a master of the almighty five string bass, playing finger style in a musical genre usually dominated by pick bass players. But Alex goes and plays a five string, shreds it up on the bass. He does it extremely well with Blotted Science. Everything Ron throws at Alex guitar wise, Alex makes up an amazing part to go with it, providing complete low end devastation. Now if your head hasn't exploded already from the six string machine gunning of Ron, and the five string artillery bombardment from Alex, then it will definitely crumble under the might of the all powerful nuclear metronome we call Derek Roddy. As usual, Derek goes out of his way to prove he is one of the best drummers in the world (not the best, for me right now that's a tie between George Kollias and Gene Hoglan but still he's quite amazing). Unlike making Derek drum progressive style like the Watchtower drummer has done, Ron basically tells Derek to fire at will when it comes to the drums. In turn, he lays down some unrelenting fits of double bass and blast beats, but is constantly changing time and being off the wall. Amazing for a guy who usually drums in music that doesn't do that many time signature changes.
Find Machines of Dementia if possible, I don't regret that I found it. It's an amazing album that must be heard to be believed.