Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2024
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Privacy Policy

Vitalij Kuprij > Extreme Measures > Reviews > dcl
Vitalij Kuprij - Extreme Measures

Classical and Neoclassical FIRE! - 85%

dcl, April 13th, 2020

I randomly found out about Vitalij Kuprij from his guest appearance on one of James Murphy's solo albums and thought "hey, that's an interesting sounding eastern European name, and a ripping keyboard section here, let's check it out". So I found my way to his first two albums and have been a fan ever since.

Let's talk about "Extreme Measures". It's kind of a two-headed beast. On one side, you have blistering speed metal neoclassical insanity of songs like the title track, "Track on fire" and "Intrigue", on the other side, you have straight classical piano performances of pieces by Chopin and Beethoven. Sort of between the two, you have the power ballad (can you really call it that on an instrumental record?) "Crying in the Shadows", which combines a slower paced clean piano with a rock band backing. In my mind, all of these aspects are great, however, this review won't really focus on the classical stuff - I like it and I recommend it, but I don't feel qualified to talk about it.

So, let's get into it. This is a really lead focused album. There's not a huge amount of guitar 'riffing' - the rhythm section tends to be quite simple, oftentimes just holding a steady power chord progression over which the leads do the real work. This might be a problem for some, and to them I'll say that this is not a thrash metal record. You gotta listen to it for what it is and what it wants to showcase.

And it has a god damn lot of stuff to showcase. Where the rhythm guitar isn't doing much exciting and is mostly just providing some structure, the lead keyboadrs and guitar are shredding a web of awesome on top and providing you with the real 'riffing', in the form of insane arpeggio sequences and super fast melodic patterns that get embedded in your brain. The songs are filled with section after section of different and equally awesome such patterns, with little variations being added as the track progresses, and some absolutely FACEMELTING solos from Vitalij on the keys and George Bellas on guitar.

A strong theme in the album is the interplay between the guitar and keyboard. This is very obvious on "Destination" "Track on Fire" for example, where you hear the two instruments in a sort of duel, or a verbal altercation even. Each party has its own unique theme, and in the soloing sections they go full throttle, trying to outdo each other even more. And throughout, together, they build up towards a powerful finale.

It's all simple rhythms and shred wars, and yet it never gets old for me. It's obviously masterfully executed, but more importantly, really well composed and arranged by Kuprij. And there is some variety in there too, there's a cool sort of breakdown towards the end of "Destination", which slows things down dramatically and allows for some really soaring and intense sounding shred to really shine through over it. "Depression" has a similar section in the middle, where the insane shreddy electric madness stops for a moment, and you instead hear a duet between some classical guitar and clean piano. "Intrigue" is probably the track which has the most traditional metal guitar riffing, with some more variety, bit of palm muting going on, etc.

The performances are top notch. Vitalij Kuprij is obviously a master on the keyboards, and also proves himself to be a good composer. I'm also a fan of the sound he's picked for his leads, it unapologetically screams "lead keyboards" .George Bellas is a beastly shredder on the guitar and keeps up with Kuprij without a hitch. The drums and bass are played by Jon Doman and John Onder respectively, and they complete the band with competent, albeit relatively unremarkable performances, due to the nature of the simple rhythm section. The engineering is good, with everything being clearly audible, with the lead guitar and keyboards obviously taking centre stage.

All in all, I really recommend this. it's a fast-tempo, virtuosic, exciting and fun listen. Yes, it’s not groundbreaking, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a beautiful example of the neoclassical shred genre and does that style masterfully. …And you might just get some of that high culture too, if you listen to the classical piano parts.