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Theory in Practice play technical death metal of the melodic kind, laying down a complex and frenetic rhythmic foundation and saturating it with an endless barrage of crushing riffs, throat-ripping vocals, sweeping guitar solos, and guitar/keyboard unisons and duels worthy of the mightiest keyboard metal bands of this day and age. The execution is flawless - guitarist Peter Lake knows what the people want, and he does an exceptional job of twisting his riffs through bizarre meters and making them sound exceedingly heavy. His solos soar above the mayhem in such ways that they might seem more at home on a Andromeda record than anything that's associated with death metal. Keyboardist Mattias Engstrand is apparently there to keep Peter on his toes, as the two often indulge in massive harmonies and occasionally trade off solos that would please even the guys in Dream Theater. Drummer Henrik Ohlsson is what you'd expect from a tech death drummer - irregular foot work, spastic cymbal crashes, and off-time patterns. The bass, as far as I can tell, was not exactly a major concern for this album - because it's basically inaudible. Not that big of a deal, since the focus here is on guitar pyrotechnics.
So, what's the damn problem?
I don't really know. I should love this album. In fact, I should have long since crafted an altar in its name and set up a nightly worship routine, but something consistently gets in my way every time I try. Maybe it's the awful production, or the inability to decide on a solid direction, or the monotonous songwriting... whatever it is, it irritates me to no end to watch a band oozing with such sheer amounts of potential put out an offering that's so painfully mediocre.
The production is... fuzzy. I cannot think of a better word. The drums have zero dynamics and sound utterly lifeless. If you weren't paying attention, you probably wouldn't even be able to tell the difference between snare hits and kick drums... and forget about differentiating kick drums from tom hits. The guitars are mixed in incredibly uneven fashion - the riffs sound reasonably powerful and heavy, but the leads and solos are completely drowned out by the drums (mostly the cymbals, which actually sound decent), and even when the leads are halfway audible they still sound scratchy and thin. This annoys me especially throughout the title track, "Colonizing the Sun", which contains several solos throughout its duration that I can tell would probably really impress me if I could only fucking hear them clearly.
The songwriting on here suffers as the album moves forward. The first two tracks contain plenty of good ideas... interesting riffs at breakneck speeds, striking melodies placed against soul-ripping sonic rage, killer sweep-picked solos, and bizarre time changes. From there, each song seems to become more and more mundane. The riffs begin to grate on the nerves, the drums cease to do anything interesting and merely serve to give you a headache, and the great melodic leads that had originally set this band apart from the legions of other bands doing the exact same thing slowly fade into the mess of indecipherable riffs. To be honest, this might be the result of the dreadful production slowly wearing away at my ears more than anything else.
I have listened through this album from start to finish several times since I first purchased it, but more often than not I find myself listening to the first two songs and then putting something else on. Occasionally I'll listen to the fourth track, "Shapeshifter", as it has some awesome leads throughout, but that's all. I'm simply unable to make it through any of the other tracks without rubbing my temples in frustration.
Perhaps next time around the guys can find a sound engineer who knows how to properly mix instruments.
Theory in Practice have come close to perfection with their third release. I have not heard their previous two albums, but if they are anything like this I shall have to get my hands on them. This album contains ultra technical, yet surprisingly catchy death metal. Although many metalheads shy away from metal that is "catchy", this album is not overly so and has a great mix of brutality, odd time signatures, and insane musicianship.
On to the individual instruments. First of all, the guitar work is outstanding. The amount of riffs and how they flow together is magnificent. The technicality of some of them is amazing. The lead work is simply beautiful. Each song has at least one solo, which, while fast and technical, also manages to be melodic.
In terms of drums, they are well done and tightly executed. He plays quite well and does not use much blasting, but instead comes up with different build up patterns to complement the guitar.
Bass is the standard 'follow the root note of the guitar' playing. Nothing special and not very audible.
Keyboard is used mostly for atmosphere, but also has some lead play in melodies and such. They have a slightly reverberating tone to them.
The vocalist has a midrange growl/yell. He does not detract from the music, but isn't much of a stand out. Vocal parts are not used as much as instrumental parts in the songs.
Finally, I must mention the production. I do not like the way the album is mixed. While I cannot place my finger on it, there is something very wrong with it. The recording quality is fine, but the mixing job was poorly done. But overall, this is a very good album and highly recommended to all fans of metal.
Normally I find bands whose chief attraction is their technical skill to be completely bland and uninventive... just cos you can play doesn't mean you can write a song. Theory in Practice... well this is another beast entirely. These guys manage to convey raw intensity through their excessive noodling and riffery, something many have tried, few have accomplished.
Colonizing The Sun wastes no time whatsoever in driving yo punk ass into the ground, with an insane title track full of lightning fast picking, throat lacerating vocals... this is just a fuckin ONSLAUGHT of metal, man. "Onslaught" is the perfect word for Theory in Practice's blitzkrieg of dizzying and bludgeoning guitars, extremely technical yet catchy in an abstract manner, sort of like the sonic barrage of meshuggah spliced with death circa Sound of Perseverance. As a guitarist (and a guy who does tabs) this is just ridiculous.
Standout tracks: colonizing the sun, ashen acrophya, the clockwork that counts aeons. If you dig Spiral Architecht, Cephalic Carnage, or Meshuggah these guys just might float yer proverbial boat m/
Now Theory In Practice the gods of technical death metal return with their new cd. And what a godly one. Now on Colonizing the Sun the songwriting is more thrash oriented and melodic. The only problem is that it's not as aggressive as The Armeggedon Theories, though it's still quite aggressive. Now Henrik Ohlsson is not playing drums and ONLY doing the vocals. So in his place we have Patrick Sjoberg. He is a great drummer, truly, but one of the main problems on this cd is that he is buried under the rest of the band and is very hard to hear to times. The lyrics are the most diverse on this album ranging from songs about cloning (Conspiracy In Cloning) to songs about life and death (The Psychomantum Litany) to songs about spirits and lies (Ashen Apocrypha). Peter Lake shreds away as always and Mattias Engstrund's keyboards (more predominate now) make up for some great harmonies. Now that the music is more thrash/death then just pure death Ohlsson's vocals fit the music much better. The title track, probably the best on the album, has interesting lyrics, killer intro riffs, and an amazing solo between Lake and Engstrund. Other great tracks include Ashen Apocrypha, The Clockwork that Counts Aeons, and Replica Dawn. They even through in a cover at the end (This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both oof Us) by an obscure 70's prog band called Spark. The main problem with this is that it sounds very out of place on this album. Colonizing the Sun may be my favorite TIP album so if you like technical metal or just shredding guitar playing, definatly check this out.