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"Hello Bambi, My Name's Thumper" - 100%

Rhapsorizon, February 13th, 2008

Do you constantly ponder the existence of far more superior technical metal bands than Dream Theater/Liquid Tension Experiment or Spiral Architect? Well, here it is: The most ridiculous album of the decade, possibly the century.

What you will discover about this album is that it may appear to be seemingly impossible to follow the song structures. There MAY be one or two bars in this album that are in 4/4 time, but other than that possibility being in question, I honestly believe these guys don't know what 4/4 is. However, the remaining time signatures will leave you absolutely astonished. These guys are basically the epitome of technicality when it comes to odd time signatures, simply because they have the ability to make 17/6 or 11/7 timing seem simple, if you can comprehend that. And as for the progressions of the songs: Each song’s key signature modulates pretty much every bar and, as you will notice, there is not a single long-running key or melody either. But, it doesn’t ruin it; au contraire. What this does is add to the amazement of the pieces. But in essence, the last thing you want to see this band as is a novelty. Unless you want to dive into their actual novelty material. Which is probably just a representative of how bored they were whilst writing the album. Hell, to give you an idea as to how much boredom they experienced, the track "A Wild Hare" actually syncs up perfectly to a mixture of scenes on Bambi, with Ron's guitaring covering Thumper's dialogue. But that's just awesome.

This has been mentioned in past reviews and I have to resubmit the same statement: It seems that no matter how many times you listen to each song, every time you listen to it (expecting to finger-tap to every part correctly) without a doubt, you will always discover parts that you forgot were there. Every time. Every time you listen to a particular song, there is a different light being uncovered. But this doesn’t divert interest in any way, it merely adds to the curiosity as to what can be discovered next. I have listened to this album probably over 25 times since I got it a couple of weeks ago, and there is still so much to discover, no matter how many times I listen to it.

What is apparent on this album is that it can be taken as wankery, or it can be taken as just a simple statement saying “Yep, we’re better than you. So stick it up your ass.” I take the latter option, as these guys not only do not wank (the guitarist actually doesn’t play anything amazingly fast, neither does the bassist), but they also simply try to extend their limits and abilities in order to cover corners of the musical spectrum that no band has covered yet. And they execute it WELL, which is what is of the HIGHEST priority in this genre.

The drums:
Bobby got the spotlight of the decades in Halford, Demons & Wizards and Sebastian Bach & Friends, but in this album, he shows all previous performances up with superior ease. The sheer technicality and intensity of this guys theoretical as well as practical abilities and knowledge is beyond comprehension. Although speed is not a hugely protrusive aspect of his performance, he will aurally and mentally fuck you over, making you bleed liquid question marks from the entrance and exit wounds on both sides of your head after paying attention to what this guy does on this album. He delivers clean, crisp and almost excessively precise timing and time modulation with change-overs and progressions. What he splatters on the side dish of this already delicious concoction of technical superiority and ass-hammery is a very diverse ability in grooving, intense fills and quirky polyrhythms. The result of seven years in the making of this album is clear on what Bobby drums into your face. This - guy - is - a - nutcase. To compliment his superior ability with drumsticks, the production has mixed a very strange level of frequencies for the drum tracks in this record. It seems like a very unorthodox method of levelling the frequencies (you will notice this also when you hear it) for drums, but in a way, it makes the sound very unique and most certainly very original. But aside from that...goddamn. Please let me give birth to your children.

The guitars:
Bobby's brother, Ron Jarzombek, is quite simply a hybrid guitarist. He's the executor of ... fast ... playing, and ridiculously complex progressions. Being the driving force behind this ensemble's technical integrity and melodic mastery, he presents himself capable of executing the bare necessities of a technical piece, playing on a strict wankery diet, and composing chaotically intricate guitar pieces. Other than the drums, the intricacy of Ron's melodies will absolutely stun you. It really takes a guitarist to understand what is going on here in this album on Ron's behalf. There's really a lot to take on in this department. He throws in a lot of balladic sections in various pieces, to accompany and compliment the cacophony of off-beat and off-key screams and sweeps, that seem to successfully border the very appropriate licks and down-plays, that seem to ravage every major and minor pentatonic in existence, and even the ones that are non-existence. To put it simply, Ron is the kind of guy thar can play an F flat or a B sharp on guitar. But whatever. This guy is basically a living, walking, talking sign, in human form, that says in bold letters: "If you play guitar and you're not Ron Jarzombek, You shoul probably kill yourself".

And finally, the bass:
Now, seeing as I'm no bassist, it would make me more pretentious than experimental when it came to reviewing the position, ability and insanity of this guy, Pete Perez, on bass. But I can safely say this, without being liable for assholeship: This guy is ridiculous. Pete has spent most of his metal career in Power/Heavy metal bands, so this is probably an odd turn for him as well. Although Spastic Ink is on hold, I still doubt Pete has ever been a part of anything that demands as much technical ability and theoretical knowledge in music as Spastic Ink does. And to put it plainly, this guy certainly matches up to the requirements. The very concept of single-handedly individualising the counter-part position of Ron's guitar work is beyond comprehension. A lot of tech-prog bands will bound the bassist with the inescapable position of following the guitar's bass notes note-for-note, with the occasional 5-second solo or 10-second off-beat bar, but not this band. Pete is one of the three shining stars in this ensemble, which is what every member with this sort of ability deserves. Not only can Pete follow every counter melody that Ron throws at him, but he can also effortlessly accentuate the pin-in-thumb drums with pro-as-hell ease, using an array of ridiculous hammer-on legato techniques, sweeps, licks and hell-based arpeggios. He's also not afraid of using a bit of funky slap-bass here and there for that extra raunchy touch. In retrospect upon listening to this album again, I've concluded that any bassist that isn't Pete Perez (other than Billy Sheehan and Victor Wooten) should more than likely just pack it in and go home. And by "go home", I mean kill yourself. Enough said.

Production-wise, this album is a very unique one. The guitars and drums especially. For the reputation and rank in the metal world that Ron and Bobby Jarzombek sit upon, they seem to have added an almost amateur touch to the production. The drums are mixed in a way that makes the high-end seem more extreme than the other frequencies, but it still maintains a brilliant sound in its own quirky way. The guitars also bare this distinct frequency, but also seems to compensate for this apparent "flaw", by showing its face as being quirky and unique. It's tastefully done, and it holds a strong position of individuality in this sense.

Fuck it, to put it as simply as I can: This album is fucking insane, and you need to get it. It is certainly not an album for the simple-minded or the faint of heart, though. You’ll need a pretty strong musical head, and a good heart to be able to appreciate this album and love for what it truly is: A band that will always be better than you.
100 fucking per cent for this one. Get it at all costs, because this is it. This is “that” band that tops all others in technical progressive metal. And this album is bound to drop a few jaws and untwine a few pairs of pants.

Bravo.

Additional note: The track "A Wild Hare", actually syncs up perfectly to a mixture of scenes on Bambi, with Ron's guitaring covering Thumper's dialogue.