By Mike Maher
Canvas Solaris is a three piece technical metal band based in Statesboro, Georgia. Cortical Tectonics is the band’s third release, and features 6 tracks of instru-metal madness. The album was released in June 2007 on Sensory Records, which has been their label since their last release, 2005’s Penumbra Diffuse. The band was formed in 1999 as a death metal group but they have since transitioned into the tech metal genre and are making some pretty intricate, interesting music. I’ve heard about the band several times from my annual pilgrimage to the U.S.’s metal Mecca, ProgpowerUSA in Atlanta, Georgia, but this is the first time I’ve digested an entire album, and I’ve got to tell you, it tastes good. I am glad that I grabbed this disc to review because it really surprised me. I am not a huge fan of really technical metal, which I usually classify as a lot of noise with little melody or soul, but that wasn’t the case with Cortical Tectonics. Canvas Solaris play some heavy, crazy arrangements and then slide right into some lighter, jazzy music that reminds me of some of the Liquid Tension Experiment.
“Berserker Hypothesis” is the first track and it is a tempo changing, mish mash of intricate metal goodness that showcases the band’s musicianship. “Sinusoid Mirage” is a slower song that I absolutely love with a great keyboard and drum arrangement. “Interface” is another slower track that features some outstanding guitar work, and I think they play a Glockenspiel in here! “Gamma Knife” is a faster, shifting, guitar driven song with some fast fret work. “Rhizome” starts off with a slower progressive sound but cranks up into some overdriven guitar and heavy drumming as it progresses toward a sweet guitar solo ending. Finally, “Reticular Consciousness” is a 17 minute journey that takes the listener through the gamut of Canvas Solaris’ abilities to effortlessly shift between complex, melodic, and jazz influenced music. It seems like several different songs in one, with slow soulful passages stitched in between super-fast technical sequences.
These guys are great musicians and the album is well worth a listen if you are a fan of progressive instrumental music, especially if you like the tech-metal genre. The band is recommended for fans of Spatial Architect, Cynic and the Dillinger Escape Plan, but as I am not currently a listener of those bands, I can neither confirm nor deny. I did like the Liquid Tension Experiment albums and I’d place this album in a category alongside them. If you like LTE, you’ll like this, hands down. It’s pretty safe to say that anything Ken Golden will put on his label will be a quality product, so you don’t need my review to tell you to listen to it.