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Canvas Solaris - Cortical Tectonics - 90%

ConorFynes, December 9th, 2011

Canvas Solaris are widely acknowledged as being the darlings of modern technical prog metal. They are a band that has been able to capture my attention without the use of those pesky vocals, instead letting their instruments do the talking. It goes without saying that this band is at the top of their game from a technical angle, and on 'Cortical Tectonics', they take their auditory calculus to its arguable peak, creating the most coherent and effective album of their careers.

Canva Solaris have been constantly changing as a group, now- if my memory serves- a five piece act with full-time keyboardist to boot. With 'Cortical Tectonics', Canvas Solaris are actually only a three piece, which is made quite surprising due to the unrelenting complexity and busy performance. The many guitars of Nathan Sapp are the feature on all of these tracks, and they tend to vary quite a bit. Canvas Solaris is most definitely a progressive metal band first and foremost. Frantic and tightly composed tech riffs are sometimes even being played two or three at a time, thanks to the dense overdubbing of guitars. Thanks to clever musicianship and arrangement however, it refrains from sounding like a noisy blur, although it is a lot to take in all at once. Ultimately, Canvas Solaris really amazes on all fronts, performance-wise. There is a distinct sci-fi sound to much of the music; spacey effects are occasionally thrown in to provide a new dimension to the music.

'Cortical Tectonics' is arguably the heaviest album that Canvas Solaris have done. Especially compared to its predecessor 'Prenumbra Diffuse', there is a lesser focus on the lighter aspects of the band's music; this can be taken as a good or bad thing, depending on where you are coming from as a listener. I personally find the more unrelenting nature of 'Cortical Tectonics' to really work for the band, because they never lower their integrity for powerful compositions. There is less variety and mellowness to digest on this album, and it does lead to an overall more cohesive effort; instead of wandering through a multitude of different jazzy, eastern, or psychedelic sounds, Canvas Solaris sticks to intense prog metal, and manages to keep just enough mellower moments to keep the sound fresh. On the lighter side, Canvas Solaris draws mainly from jazz, although they never truly wander out of prog canon. If you like technical metal, 'Cortical Tectonics' may possibly become one of your new favourite albums. It's very cerebral without being self-indulgent, and while it lacks the vocals that some listeners may sorely miss, each song the band delivers here is memorable and powerful.