Splinters of Change is the new 5 song demo from technical metal band Gnostic. Produced by former Atheist guitarist/singer Kelly Schaeffer, this is a pretty formidable batch of tunes here that are as hard hitting as they are technically impressive. Gnostic also happens to feature former Atheist drummer Steve Flynn, who shows that he still has those amazing metal meets jazz drum chops after so many years of being out of the musical spotlight. Singer Kevin Freeman has a strong vocal attack that never really falls into the death metal realm, but more like a classic thrash gutteral shout. His style perfectly fits these acrobat yet riff heavy songs. The guitar work of Sonny Carson and Todd Simpson is pretty impressive, as the duo churn out riff after splendid riff, complete with plenty of mind-numbing solo spots. Fans of Watchtower, Death, or Atheist will no doubt go ape-shit over the layers of technical spots that these two guys spew out. However, despite all this, it's the slippery and melodic bass playing of Stephen Morley that I keep coming back to time and time again on this demo. Simply put, this guy is a monster player, and his nimble runs and acrobatic popping are a wonder to hear, adding just the right amount of prog rock and fusion style to this otherwise aggressive metal affair. The weaving and intricate way that these guys communicate musically is just awe-inspiring, and for a second I almost thought I was listening to some of Atheist's Unquestionable Presence album. It's that good folks!
If Gnostic's intention was to just record a couple of songs to get the attention of the metal world, well then I think that they have succeeded. This is mind blowing stuff that deserves a higher mark but I'll reserve the 4.5 or higher for when the band gives us a full-length CD. Technical and progressive metal fans take note-get your hands on one of these demos and give a listen to barnburners like "Mind Lock", "Wall of Lies", or the unbelievable title track, and get ready for the impending arrival of what is sure to be one of the most talked about bands of 2006.
1. Violently Calm
2. Wall of Lies
4. Splinters of Change
5. Mind Lock