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Best prog metal album ever? - 95%

MikeyC, January 9th, 2007

From the get-go, I have to say that I’m not a big fan of progressive metal. I heard a bit of Pain Of Salvation and I didn’t like it. The big issue for me is the vocals. I can tolerate clean vocals occasionally, as long as it doesn’t dominate a song. I love screaming and growling much better. This is why I love this album so much…it’s an instrumental.

I have a few instrumental albums in my collection, with Behold… The Arctopus, Liquid Tension Experiment, and Mastery to name a couple. However, all those instrumentals can’t quite match the skill and replayability of “Ink Complete”. Why? One reason… even after repeated listens, you still don’t really know exactly what you heard. After a song, you may think, “yeah, I know it now!”, but after a subsequent listen, you will immediately forget about that hidden cymbal hit, or subliminal bass line, and you’re back to square one. Even with no lyrics, this is probably (for now) one of the best progressive albums ever.

The technicality conveyed here is astronomical. While bands like Meshuggah are great at being technical, Spastic Ink are excellent. But while the album is full of technicality, they’re not being pretentious. They’re just good at what they do.

Even during the album, they limit themselves to certain musical patterns. For example, the song “See, And It’s Sharp!” limits the guitar to using just C and C#. Where other bands of any genre would crumble, Spastic Ink flourish, turning this limitation into a four minute-plus work of art. Another example is “Suspended On All Fours”, where, as the linear notes state, it is “based on a pattern of four suspended notes”. I have absolutely no idea what that means, but that’s what make this trio so freaking talented. I can completely agree with wEEman33 here where Spastic Ink achieve “complexity through simplicity”. They can take any limitation they want and still make a decent song out of what’s left.

All of the instruments are played with stunning tightness despite the album’s technicality. I guess the best part is that you can actually hear the bass! And it’s not just filling in either…it has an equal part in how the songs sound. Not to mention that Pete Perez is a bloody good bass player, too! How these three (yes, the band is consisted of just three people. Just goes to show that you don’t need 10 people to make good music) come up with this music, using start-stop riffing (“A Morning With Squeakie” is the best example of that), super-technical time signatures and music limitations, and still making it interesting without a vocalist, is beyond me.

I could go on and on about the music, but I think you get where I’m going with this. Even if you like technical music, but don’t like prog metal, still pick this up. It’s definitely worth the money.

Best tracks: Well, almost all of them, but I’ll say “A Morning With Squeakie”, “See, And It’s Sharp!”, “Harm And Half-Time Baking Shuffle”, and “To Counter And Groove In E Minor”.