I've always heard great things about Canvas Solaris; I knew they were an all instrumental heavy progressive metal band with great chops, dazzling guitar work and never-ending energy. However, the last three days I have been listening to their debut EP Spatial/Design, I have to mention that I am amazed at the brilliance showcased on this 26-minute disc, and it far exceeded my expectations.
This is strictly instrumental music in both emotional and cerebral impact. Driven by guitar work from Nathan Sapp and Ben Simpkins, the songs also occasionally lend themselves to odd soundscapes. Ethnic and tribal drum beats, weird percussion usage, synth-like guitar harmonies are all melted into the songcraft never sacrificing heaviness and majestic speed. Mekong Delta and Coroner inspired thrashy speed guitar runs spiral into sharp, merciless leads that are heavier than a rock. The bass is less prominent compared to other bands such as Behold the Arctopus, Spiral Architect or Cynic, but Hunter Ginn's drumming is eerily evocative of Dsrhythmia, another ultra-brutal technical instrumental band you need to check out if you haven't already. Tone, phrasing and the mesmerizing cymbal work of Ginn give Canvas Solaris its own sound for sure - it's the kind of drum sound that is intentionally dry sounding with shattering cymbals and percussion over indescribable guitar and bass combinations. Note the wicked drumming on the thrashy opening song that shifts to a mild breakdown with arpeggiating textures allowing the drums to come through. Likewise, the cymbals on "Non-Termination Integer" (everything except the song titles is great on this disc) give the song its much needed trippy feel when combined with the pumping bass and guitar solo.
As I already mentioned, Canvas Solaris' music is more guitar-heavy than bass. There is a slight jazz touch present, but not on the same level as the aforementioned bands. The finger picked intro of "Cosmic Microwave Background Radiaton" is suggestive of the band's interest in jazz, but more on the fusion side of it. The synth-like guitar theme is the most central thing of the song and it is unafraid to borrow jazz elements. The solos aren't there for the sake of impressing anyone; Sapp and Simpkins moreso employ thrashy rhythm patterns we'd normally expect from Voivod or Watchtower, but there is also a HUGE amount of death metal riffing that runs through the compositions. It's on such a great scale that I was almost swept away by the unexpected death metal groove some of these songs possess. A little inspection of the booklet revealed the band's undeniable love for bands including Anacrusis, Atheist, Believer, Cynic, Death and Pestilence to name a few. Their technicality, except the thrashy overall vibe, is more in the league of European technical metal in the vein of Mekong Delta and Sieges Even to these ears. Needless to say, when your music encompasses all these ingredients and mixes them up so seamlessly, the outcome is bound to please fans like myself. I so need to hear their first full-length disc now. Highly recommended.
- Camera Obscura (06:15)
- Beyond Life (07:18)
- Treversia Ligmathisia (06:15)
- The Effects of (07:07)