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Spastic Ink

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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5 stars Wow,this Album is a masterpiece...great very high complex technical Progressive Metal with nameful sizes of the progressive Metal Scene!!For example:Ron Jarzombek (Watchtower,Guitars),Jason McMaster(ex Watchtower,Vocals), Daniel Gildenlöw(Pain Of Salvation,Vocals/Guitars)or Marty Friedman!!Ink Compatible is one of my favourite Progressive Metal albums ever!!the musik is comparably with the two Watchtower releases..but with more melody lines..Great,great,great....five Stars!!!!!!
Report this review (#31619)
Posted Monday, August 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Edited 09/27/05!

Ink Compatible is an extremely complex album and will probably not find appreciation by all prog-fans. I found it very interesting after my first listen, but only after repeated listening I was able to fully enjoy it.

The first song Aquanet which starts with the dialing sound of a modem fitting perfectly with the overall theme computer & internet is showing already where it's going to. A quite insane and high tension composition telling the story about an internet chat. This was the one I had the biggest problems with in the beginning since it's a bit too much in the vein of old WATCHTOWER recordings which are not that much "my cup of tea." But from track 2 onwards the album is getting really enjoyable at least for people like me loving mind blowing riffs in a breathtaking high speed and abrupt tempo and rhythm changes. The only point I still prefer a bit their first all instrumental album is in fact Jason McMaster's voice which is fitting not really perfectly in some parts. Even Daniel Gildenlöw's vocals in Melissa's Friend are not as brilliant as one knows from his recordings with POS. Anyway I think the vocal parts are only there for the main reason to provide some time to the listener for recovering from the very demanding and exhausting instrumental parts. Without having the booklet in front of you the quite weird and ironic lyrics are very difficult to follow. But after reading them one gets the impression that it's better to concentrate fully on the excellent instrumental parts. The music is very diverse and there are influences from multiple genres present. Some parts are rather reminiscent of music by FRANK ZAPPA or MR.BUNGLE than of metal.

As a SUMMARY I can say apart from the vocals this album is really a masterpiece in technical metal (or sometimes called math metal as well) and it's very refreshing to listen to an adventurous and inventive band like SPASTIC INK in these days of dozens of "clone band" all sounding very similar. I'd like to tell every fan of this sub-genre not to hesitate and to buy it immediately. Nevertheless due to the mentioned minor flaws I can only rate it with 4 (4,5) stars!

Report this review (#31621)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Even when the disclaimer tells you to not put five stars (I mean, sparingly) every time you want, you should get this album and submit a review (after this one) putting the same rating as me. I'll put some reasons: Ron Jarzombek and Marty Friedman having an epic battle on the trade-offs showcased on ACRONYM. Some meters there that in order to understand what the hell is going on you have to count up to 32, but without sounding like robots (something not found on Ink Complete.) There is a lot of heartful playing of almost everyone there (again, something not found on Ink Complete.) You'll have the invaluable presence of Sean Malone (Gordian Knot, OSI, Cynic), one of my favorite bass players and an extraordinary musician that also plays the Stick (here playing fretless.) Michael Manring (Mike Keneally, Yo' Miles) adding more unbelievable bass parts to the mix. A bunch of drummers that surely would give Neil Peart enough reasons to stop soloing the way he does; and weirdness that makes me think on Trout Mask Replica by Beefheart, with musicianship going directly into the vein of the most challenging parts of Zappa, Yes, UK or even Return to Forever. But with the power of thrash metal (occasional 7-strings, and their respective awful vocals --whenever I can, I skip these parts off.) You could think of it as the most crazed Dream Theater but on acid, or Watchtower with 15 years of evolution. A masterpiece. A real masterpiece of metal or fusion or everything. And if you don't beleive that Bobby Jarzombek is actually playing these things, then you can go to their website and download a video of him playing and reading some "light" parts of Aquanet. You won't believe it. My favorite part is the solo section on "In Memory Of...", where... well, I don't know how to describe all the perfection in that minute.
Report this review (#31622)
Posted Sunday, March 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is unbelievable! just "perfect"technically. Every sound every rythm or note has a perfect quality i a perfect moment in the song. It's like a Cartier-Bresson's picture : every thig in the song is not the result of hazard. Every rythm, sound, riff, comes from a musical reflexion. the result seems "strange" or inaudible I mean incomprehensible at the first listening. but the pleasure and the comprehension of the structures and the songs comes after several listenings. Ron Jarzombek and his brother Bob are very talented musiciens. Maybe emotion is not always present but the progressive structure is so interesting and complex that it takes all our attention. People who likes prog metal MUST try Spastic Ink.
Report this review (#31623)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Actually, there is nothing wrong with this album. The music is great, the production is excellent, the compositions are amazing. Ron Jarzombek is absolutely the genius mastermind behind Spastic Ink. So, why I put 2 stars to this CD? (Actually, 2.5 stars...) It's because of Mr. JASON McMASTER - the vocalist! Damn! His singing is so awful! It hurts my ears. Even the genius Daniel Gildenlow can't save the album in "Melissa's Friend". Jason was used to be the vocalist of Bonham - Jason Bonham's hard rock/hair metal/pop metal band in late 80's (yes, Jason Bonham - the great John Bonham's dearest son. By the way, you can see his performance as the drummer in the great rock movie "Rock Star"). From hair metal band lead vocal and then becomes the lead vocal of this brilliant unique prog metal band? I don't think so... Mr. Jarzombek, I think you should go find new vocalist for your project. Too bad this incredible album spoiled by McMaster.
Report this review (#31625)
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow. What can I say? If there ever was a band capable of pulling of a true "masterpiece" (whatever that is), Spastic Ink would be it. This album really has to be heard to be believed.It's awesome; mind-boggling; f*cked-up; relaxing; simplistic; technical; humourus; I could go on. It's Ron, Bobby and Pete at the height of their power. The album seems like a silly concept when you first hear it. I described it to a friend of mine: "Well it's this band's amazing new album. Completely CRAZY!" "Oh cool. What's it about?" "Computers." "What?" "Computers. The album's about computers. Like every song." "Gees, how could anyone write a whole album on computers?" "Erm..." But that is the craziness that is Spastic Ink. Who could write an album about computers? Ron Jarzombek. Is there anything this man can't do? The album starts with a dial-up tone, and then the band PLAY IT! I have always thought that would be a cool way to start a tune. I never ever thought anyone would actually do it. The next song, Just a Little Bit, is pretty self-explanitary, which is followed by Words for Nerds, the albums first laugh-out-loud moment. And so on. It's like one whole, technical, flawless, insane, self-contained experience. One of the great moments for me is Read Me, a song mostly made up of themes of other songs. I love it. How many other bands have the courage to do something like that? Everything on this album makes me smile, and, incedentally, I have absolutely no problem with Jason MacMaster's singing; it makes me smile as well. I think if the singing was pitch perfect, it would detract from the rest of the music. Ink's music is quirky by nature. I actually love MacMaster's "vocals". It's the same as how, in the film of West Side Story, it's really great all the Jets and the Sharks can't actually sing that well. It's really odd if you've heard that and then you go and see a west end version and they do all sing in tune. It just doesn't suit the music/storyline. The same I think is here. It's quirky. And I like it that way. So, in conclusion, buy this album. If you're a guitarist, buy this album. If you're a bassist, buy this album. If you're a drummer, buy this album. If your a keyboardist, buy this album. If you like prog, buy this album. If you like metal, buy this album. If you like post-rock, buy this album. If you're into computers, buy this album. Damnit just BUY THIS ALBUM! Your life will be better afterwards. Do you need any more damn persuading? :P
Report this review (#31626)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This albuw is definitely a grower. After reading a few reviews and looking at the lineup (which includes Bobby Jarzombek, one of my favorite drummers ever) I bought the CD and... I was disappointed! An hour of insanely complex music with thrashy vocals and weird time signatures. But that didn't stop me. I gave Ink Compatible a few dozens of spins and listened with great attention. And here we are - now I consider this album one of the best in the sub-genre (in not the whole genre). As you listen to this album more and more, you begin to understand that its complexity isn't the aim of Ron Jarzombek - it's just his way of expressing the music. There is nothing to add to this release - everything is simply perfect. The music is so thrilling and breathtaking that you just can't do anything else while listening: it fully takes your attention. Guitar, bass and keyboard solos change rapidly, and each of them is a masterpiece. Technically the musicians are totally mindblowing. Bobby's crushing drums, Pete's powerful bass and Ron's ultra-speed guitar are amazing, but that's not all: there are a few famous guests that will make your stay more fun than ever. Unfortunately, Bobby Jarzombek wasn't able to perform on all the tracks due to his heavy tour schedule with Rob Halford's band, but that actually doesn't spoil the impression. Overall, this album is a must for everyone who's ready to sacrifice some time to letting Ink Compatible grow on him. If you are one of those - buy it. You won't be disappointed.
Report this review (#38657)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars lets go here by starters this is the funniest cd ive ever heard in my life.

full of mroe time switches then your mamas pancakes make bananas.

1st off this cd starts off with the track

Aquanet-hilarious modem dialing up wacky phone messages awesome metal to rock intricate timeings one thinks of dialing california in 7/8 but dont be fooled an real good track by all costs.

just an little bit- an ok song an little baiscer not much to comment on this track around 5 mins.

Words for Nerds-the dang funniest song ive heard in my life the intro is like an dumb nerd reading the descripions of cpu terms only to find out its cpu. full of crimsonish melodies and rhythms.

Melissas firend-an pain of salvation esque song the intro is funny hitting on bill gates as usual tells u one thing microsoft isnt for everyone. prob main reason is gildenlow is singing on this track. reformat the hard rive go get the shotgun im gonna blow the pc away come on folks this isnt your norm everyday prog metal record.

Read me-here we are entertained by beethoven flight of the bumblebbe in opus cavantra 4/98 time signature only to be reminded of an yngwie malmsteen on steroids. nice dream theater esqueish song. the concept pursues about communication products and how stupid people are not to know them. awesoem guitar work turns from yngwie wanna be to dt instrumedley meets steve morse.

Mulit-Masking-here we start off with an backwords message like your in zappas grave and cant escape but more intensifying gothic sound to the intro of this. sounds like russia coding with soviet secret code on this song for the first 3 mins to tell us these guys r high on zappa for sure great piano layers then switches to guitar.

im telling u dream theater then zappa these guys cant make up there mind then we r brought to the vocal section which u hear the band chain like tendecies. man this is the coolest cd ever and were only on track 6.

this is my 2nd fave on this alblum great track all together. one mroe thign if u ever wondered what zappa morse and petrucci and rudess would sound like all otgether this song best describes it. total madness.

Bass solo is short but sweet jazz fusion in metal nice intricately profounding.

In Memory of-starts of with nice acoustic guitar inrto for the first min then the electric overlayer the acoustic then drums come in vocally pursues the metal again. nice weird vocals on this track sounds like high savatage vocal bit criss olivia is heard an little bit and jordan rudess synth is the background.

then the hammerring bass guitar is all over this track and goes into an complex time solo between the intruemtns from prog to jazz fusion bass lien then back to prog awesome shifting makes this tune quite orignal weather report and liquid tension experiment all in one track. bass on here is tony levin sounding real good.

an chaotic realization of nothing-song tell u it all chaos madness and power i would call this more of lte vein then the metal it was in the beginning of the cd. some the nicest musicanship ever on this alblum and song alone. this is not oyur normal just graduated berklee professors band. all sudden u do realize the music is shifting to what u thought as metal to glorious liquid tension experiment 2. this is the instrumental track of all time prog history.

i would love to see this song performed live by these guys or any one dareing to step up to the plate ill tell u one thing this band wont be asked permission to be covered unless its dream theater.

now into the 6 min mark were back to vocals and shift off to heavy guitar crunching i think i have headache already one that feels so good that i didnt have to go to bar to get almost inspireing as gedy lees favorite headache u know what i mean.

all nice pretty the nback to grotesque encore such honor to your ears when u get odne with this album ur gonna say at last no more running from law enforcement this cd is the pot supply for years to come cuz by now i feel like im high as ever from thus cd.

The Cereal Mouse-the last wacko trakc on this record sounds like macko ringo the clown meets monty python in farm house for 80 seconds this ends the opus of all time heaven.

now kids this is for grown ups only contents r full of hangovers highs and packs of stuff mroe than an saridne can.

which ocmes to my conclusion of pink floyds dsotm album u play with the wizard of oz.

this album u play to the texas chainsaw masscare so wicked cool an hoor flick while playing this equals on huge laugh and entertainment ull think the tv is an mushroom for its over.

this reivew is an little over sarcastically out of place little but man i had fun listenign to this cd and this should inspire u to buy it also.

an must have cd in any collection of druggie music.

Report this review (#38953)
Posted Saturday, July 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars A great album spoiled by some really annoying vocals.

I am listening to Ink Complete right now; being an excellent album one may ask himself (or rather, Ron Jarzombek, the real drive in the Spastic Ink project) why the hell are there vocals included. I'm not a fan of Watchtower for the same reason: awful vocals. It's clear that this guys know how to play, so it's a shame so much instrumental effort has gone to waste.

As you probably know from the other reviews, Spastic Ink is inadultered technical prog with more tempo shifts that you can possibly count. You won't find any nice melodies here but excellent skillful madness. It's certainly a great listen, but it will probably make your head hurt (not because it's bad, but because of the heavy, changing nature of the music).

Not all is lost by the vocals then, the instrumental part is still great. I just wouldn't recommend this over Ink Complete.

Hereby ends this reviews; more so than a review, a way to express my frustration on the inclusion of vocals. I will still give it 3 stars, making my best to be as objective as possible.

Report this review (#74983)
Posted Friday, April 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, Spastic Ink is from other dimension of progmetal music. Ron Jarzombek seems to be a very excentric guy and proyect his personality through his music. The first time I listened Ink Compatible I asked to myself "what the hell is this?" but, with a few listening more, I start to like more and more when I discovered "what the hell" their were doing. The instrumental parts are excellent but the vocal parts, except for Daniel Gindenlow colaboration, are not in the level of the instrumetation.
Report this review (#89697)
Posted Friday, September 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Texas shred is back.

Jarzombek's on again off again project Spastic Ink releases another dazzling display of virtuoso technique and his ability to take all of it in periodic humorous episode, the funniest perhaps being The Cereal Mouse. Musician's music to say the least.

Jarzombek shows a variety of influences here, from Holdsworth to Satriani as far as his style and technique are concerned. Fans of LTE will find this to be on a whole different level as essentially this is much more complex than LTE, as well as the band having originated before the LTE project. The biggest complaint here is the vocals, which are quite ridiculous, as music this complex should just stick to being an instrumental output.

Also of note is some cool guest appearances on the album, and I believe Freidman (of Megadeth fame) produced the record on his label if I'm not mistaken. This is about as technical as it gets folks.

Report this review (#118199)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mind Melting tech - with a concept!?

SPASTIC INK is the brainchild of guitar mad man Ron Jarzombek (of WATCHTOWER fame) and his enlisted henchmen, his brother and equal counterpart on the drums Bobby and Pete Perez on bass. This time on the tech power trio's sophomore album they have incorporated vocals notably those of Jason McMaster of Prog and tech-metal pioneers WATCHTOWER. The concept here is quite hilarious it's about a redneck who buys a computer and doesn't know how quite how work it (at least from what i can make out).

The opening track 'Aquanet' is my favourite starting with nothing more appropriate than the sound effect of a modem dialing up before launching into a tech assault. The funnily titled read me is another great song, it's probably one of the most technical but also utitlises dynamics very well in the middle. Melissa's Friend is another highlight - one of the funniest songs and one of the most melodic too.

The music here is a lot more varied and diverse than on the previous album and it invokes more of a WATCHTOWER feel thanks to the vocals of Jason McMaster although it's not quite as fast paced and paranoid (although it's a lot more technical). This one is a must for fans of technical metal.

Report this review (#146716)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars First-rate shred tech from the Jarzombek crew, even Jason McMaster's slightly tortured vocals work which couldn't have been easy considering the mind-numbing calculations going on here. And guest keyboardists Jens Johansson, David Bagsby and Jimmy Pitts fit right in and never overshadow the guitar. Essentially one long epic work of linear metallics broken-up by occasional strange interludes and sound effects, Spastic Ink's second album is sliced into nine tracks but plays beautifully as a singular piece of modern progmetal; stylish, highly intricate, at times approaching the sort of complexities heard in 20th century classical avant garde. Guitarist/composer Ron Jarzombek is helped by brother Bobby's crack drums and bassist Pete Perez, the team sounding just like brothers who've been playing together all their lives should; seamless. A kind of almost invisible perfection only heard in other fraternal units like the Allmans, Shulman Bros., the Beach Boys, and Van Halen. 'Aquanet' bleeps hello with a fax signal giving way to Jarzobek's clean, rolling glissandos and laser trills and spell-binding rhythms, all changing before you realize what's happened. This band is a machine in the best way and puts to shame most current metal acts. McMaster's rock'n roll whine is somewhere between Kurt Cobain and Rob Halford but with enough drunk swagger to know he is neither, vocalizing only where appropriate and allowing the players the spotlight as in 'Just a Little Bit'. 'Words For Nerds' chunks and hunks and makes one dizzy, featuring a bizarre middle and a perfectly kooky synth solo from the great but almost completely unknown David Bagsby. 'Melissa's Friend' expands with Satriani flavors and a slight Mars Volta influence, becoming a wide-ranging, almost Floydian journey with some lowbrow humor. Paganini-like instrumental 'Read Me' has precise programs by Ron, 'Multi-masking' wears many faces and 12-minute 'A Chaotic Realization of Nothing Yet Misunderstood' is a real accomplishment of continuous movement-- clean, beautiful, exacting and truly gymnastic.

Extreme but also showing much of the melody and myth of the neoclassical metal pioneered by Schenker, Uli Jon Roth and Yngwie, 'Ink Compatible' will appeal to a wider range of fans than your typical Behold the Arctopus CD. Surprises around every corner and well worth many good listens.

Report this review (#162600)
Posted Monday, February 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars While Spastic Ink is certainly comprised of some competent musicians, the album Ink Compatible is mostly technical fluff. After an hour of listening to nothing but odd chromatic guitar runs and unusual atonal synth atmospheres, things can get pretty tiring. Even guests like Marty Friedman and Daniel Gildenlow do little to add variety to the mix of the endless technicality.

Spastic Ink's sound is certainly progressive metal, but the type of metal it's based of is mainly technical thrash. Jason McMaster's Voivod-esque shouting tends to drag down the sound and make it sound dated to the 80's, even though Ink Compatible is a 2004 release. The bass and guitar running together have an odd sound when playing together, and create sort of a Zappa- esque atmosphere, though heavier. Add in the endless odd time signature and occasional weird synth layers, and you will have a pretty good idea of what kind of ride you're in for.

There isn't much more to say about the album. To make it simple the over-the top technicality and wierd technology theme, this basically sounds like the unwanted child between a Satriani- esque shredder and Voivod, and the mix really doesn't do much to set them apart as a defining technical band. There is more interesting Technical prog metal out there to interest the prog metal head.

Report this review (#227497)
Posted Sunday, July 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mindblowing, one of the most technical and original bands you'll find in this site, courtesy of Ron Jarzombek's Awesomness. This album is weird, melodic, technical, creative, dynamic, even fun, but more important... PROGRESSIVE! This album has a lot of contributors, from Daniel Gildenlow Marty Friedman to Jens Johansson or the almighty bassist Sean Malone.

This album starts with weird sounds in "Aquanet", only to interrupt with intricate riffs and constant signature time changes, cool solos, and a vocalist that suit perfectly with the style of Spastic Ink. "Just A Little Bit" continues in the same league as Aquanet, technical, but is lacking compared to the first song. Then comes "Word For Nerds", my favourite track in the album, a masterful song of amazing and blazing progressiveness, which consists on four sections, each section with a leading instrument. "Melissa's Friend", another cool song, Jarzombek comes with more creative riffs and Daniel Gildenlow sing with the full emphatic power of his dramatic vocals. "Read Me", probably the "worst" song, but still a good one, with a lot of signature time changes, and greats riffs. "Multi Masking", with one of my favourites intros ever, really funny lyrics (and the best vocal effort by Jason McMaster), wonderful guitar playing, and great keyboard work by Johansson, just one of my favourite tracks in the record. "In Memory Of... " is another good track, that starts slow but breaks in an awesome bass work by Sean Malone. And the long song... "ACRONYM", as you could thought, in my humble opinion, the most complex song in Ink Compatible, a technical journey. Then... the last, "Cereal Mouse", a short and funny song, that recreates a mouse adventure, you can search for the video of the song in youtube or something like that.

An Awesome Album! Essential, if not an essential prog rock album, at least an essential prog metal album. This isn't comparable to any tech band, Spastic Ink speaks its own language. This is a calculated use of music.

Report this review (#295924)
Posted Monday, August 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Ink Compatible' - Spastic Ink (8/10)

With Spastic Ink's 1997 debut 'Ink Complete', brothers Jarzombek and bassist Pete Perez left quite a mark on the tech metal scene. Being able to charge their viciously impressive playing with intelligent and complex composition, Spastic Ink immediately set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd, leaving a dedicated fanbase hungry for more. Seven years later, a few things changed with the band's sound on the second record 'Ink Compatible', but the tongue-in-cheek nature of the album coupled with its technical brilliance make it nothing short of a great follow-up to the original.

'Ink Compatible' shows the sound and direction of Spastic Ink growing more mature, although the eccentric charm of guitarist Ron Jarzombek is still here, through quirky guitar solos and odd voiceovers. To one as yet uninitiated with the music of Spastic Ink, the band takes progressive metal to very technical heights, and features incredibly complex arrangements, albeit at the sacrifice of well-rounded music. Although I was always impressed by the arrangements of Spastic's msuci the first time around, it always felt as if the compositions lacked cohesion as complete pieces. On 'Ink Compatible', there has definitely been a marked improvement on that front. Instead of the songs feeling like individual collections of jaw-dropping riffs and musical ideas, 'Ink Compatible' has pieces that take the form of actual songs; all to the band's benefit.

In most ways, 'Ink Compatible' is an improvement over its predecessor, although it certainly takes some extra time to grow in light of the added complexities to composition structure. However, I do not necessarily choose this album over the first. The biggest reason for this is certainly the use of singers here, which as one may have expected from a band as technical as Spastic Ink, does not work in the band's favour. Although there are some great singers like Daniel Gildenlow (of progressive metal titans Pain of Salvation) at work here, the vocal melodies never sound inspired, and instead tend to distract from the real delight here, being the excellent instrumentation. Some of the voiceovers wear thin quickly as well; one can only hear interludes about hillbillies' views towards personal computers so many times before deigning to skip over it!

Perhaps there isn't as much of the same charm this time around for Spastic Ink, but the album is certainly a step above 'Ink Complete' in terms of its writing and- in some cases- musicianship itself. Spastic Ink finally sounds like a full band effort here as opposed to the debut, which sounded closer to being a Ron Jarzombek solo album. An excellent album by any stretch, although it is more hit-and-miss than what I've previously heard from Spastic Ink.

Report this review (#432132)
Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | Review Permalink

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