The Pitch: The latest album from progressive metal/djent virtuoso Mendel, also of Aborted fame. In addition to his impressive contributions to the death metal scene, Mendel continues to seriously shred on the side with his solo work. FFO: Animals As Leaders, Modern Day Babylon, The Minerva Conduct
What I Like: The production values continue to grow around Mendel's always-impressive musicianship. "The Rise Of Apollo" sets a truly epic tone, actually making full use the word. Massive-sounding synth additions create a gorgeous orchestral backdrop, but as always, it is Mendel himself that maintains the spotlight wasting no time ripping into seemingly impossible solos. This seamlessly carries over into ""Descending Upon Hades," which takes a little more time building to a climax, but when it does it is an explosive one. Lightning speed "neoclassical bulls#!t" and a delightful harpsichord (Alex Karlinksy) escalate into something that is a true wonder to behold.
I've written at length in the past about how much I love Mendel's playing style. He is a virtuoso who stil understands that composition, skill, and most of all engagement must work hand in hand. None of these elements work in isolation to create an instrumental experience that is truly worthwhile. But there are some new additions as well. JC Wardenaar, Sven de Caluwe (Aborted), Daniel de Jongh (Textures), and Valerio Recenti (My Propane) all make guest vocal appearances, making this Mendel's least "instrumental" album to date. Their strategic use on this record adds an extra layer to the adventure, and also help make this album further stand out from past releases.
Critiques: If I'm being perfectly honest, my one gripe is the price point. This is a top notch album that clearly took a lot of time and care (and subsequently financial costs) to put together, instrumental or not. But the $11+ for digital and $17+ for CD cost turn me off. Were I a more affluent person, I'd say it's totally worth it; but alas, my funds are largely spoken for.
The Verdict: If you enjoy quality progressive, instrumental music, want to take your djent game to the next level, or need some new music with which to expand your overall guitar skills, you should definitely pick up this album. Mendel's commitment to pushing himself to the brink of his capabilities justifies the price tag if if fits your budget. I'm just a slave to my bills at the moment.
Flight's Fav's: Descending Upon Hades, Hellbound, The Rise of Apollo
-Review by FlightOfIcarus
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