While there are times when mindbending levels of technical dexterity can lead to ponderous self-indulgence, there’s a lot to be said for creativity and physical skill in the realm of heavy music pushed to its limits.
Three former members of prog metal stalwarts Zero Hour, Abnormal Thought Patterns have little to prove in terms of musicianship, but Manipulation Under Anesthesia makes a virtue of its creators’ sublime gifts, as they explore the territory between futuristic progressive rock and post-Meshuggah riff science.
In less capable hands, the likes of Harmonic Oscillators and the four movements of Velocity And Acceleration would pass by in a blur of melted frets, but this trio have both atmospheric sensibilities and melodic suss to burn. This shares textural qualities with Chimp Spanner and Aeon Zen, but the overall sonic aura of these elaborate collages of riff, rhythm and revolution is unique. Forget the Dream Theater clones: this is 21st-century prog metal at its finest.