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Gordian Knot - Emergent CD (album) cover

EMERGENT

Gordian Knot

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.73 | 146 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Very Solid Prog / Jazz / Metal Fusion

I had listened to Gordian Knot on internet radio quite a few times, left a little underwhelmed, and finally bought EMERGENT during my Cynic craze phase. Again, coming off the phenomenal band that was Cynic, Gordian Knot was a bit of a letdown. However, as I'd bought the album on CD, it remained in my car for awhile and I got a number of listens all the way through the album. Slowly, I began listening to the album on its own merits rather than in comparison to its parent band. The impression that resulted was that this is a very solid piece of instrumental metal fusion, a genre I've been listening to for over 20 years.

Most metal fusion is an excuse for guitar soloing, and this one has that in great abundance. However, the beauty is that the soloing comes from a number of very contrasting players. The first is bandleader and bassist Sean Malone, who provides the usual jazzy acrobatics on bass, but also plays the multi-string tap instrument, the Chapman stick. Several of the "guitar solos" are actually the Stick. One of the nicest moments on the album is the live "Grace" which is simply Malone with the Stick and a loop pedal. By the end, he has built a beautiful stack of layers which include complex chordal beds, bass foundation, and nimble soloing that sounds more like Windham Hill than death metal.

Other contributors are Cynic alumni Jason Gobel and Paul Masdival who give nice performances with a more metallic tinge. Better are the moments from Fates Warning axeslinger Jim Matheos, who provides classical and acoustic work. The primary guitarist, however, is Steve Hackett, whose role is almost completely textural. His solos, if one would call them that, are exercises in timbre, long sustained notes slipping into each other in a way only his fingers find. It is Hackett's work, along with jazzmeister Bill Bruford, that take this a step up from the usual instrumental shred and make it into a real fusion album.

Most of the sounds here are much mellower than typical metal, but much crunchier than most jazz fans are going to enjoy. The result is a strangely modern flavor that works perfectly for the purpose I was using it, car music for an aging metalhead. The songs themselves aren't terribly evocative, or have a melodic identity. They're more like impressionistic color washes, a mix of flavors without a central main course.

Though I award this only a 3 star rating, this is an album that has a place in my discography, one that I reach for when I'm in the right mood. But it's not essential, it's not Cynic, but simply solid modern fusion. If you're already into instrumental metal, this is probably worth checking out. Otherwise, sample it, you might like it.

Negoba | 3/5 |

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