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Spastic Ink

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Spastic Ink Ink Complete album cover
4.02 | 89 ratings | 13 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The mad data race (5:15)
2. A morning with Squeakie (3:24)
3. Just a little dirty (1:43)
4. See, and it's sharp! (4:31)
5. Suspended on all fours (2:04)
6. A wild hare (8:15)
7. Harm and half - Time baking shuffle (2:46)
8. To counter and groove in E minor (4:04)
9. That 178 thing (4:27)
10. Eighths is enough (4:00)
11. Mosquito brain surgery (8:11)

Total Time: 48:40

Bonus Track on 2012 reissue:
12. Work Tapes (24:48)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ron Jarzombek / guitar, mixing
- Pete Perez / bass
- Bobby Jarzombek / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Bill Reed

CD Dream Circle Records ‎- DCD 9733 (1997, Germany)
CD EclecticElectric ‎- EE 2001 (2000, US)
CD EclecticElectric ‎- EE 2001 DP (2012, US) With a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SPASTIC INK Ink Complete ratings distribution

(89 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

SPASTIC INK Ink Complete reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lucas
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A real masterpiece. Ron Jarzombek, former Watchtower guitarist, formed a trio in the mid- nineties with his brother Bobby on drums and Peter Perez on bass and released this entirely instrumental album. The music is very intricate and probably the most technical that came in the metal area. Ron kept the power of Watchtower's metallic sound but broadened his canvas by adding some jazz elements to this project, mainly in regard of the rhythm section (Allan Holdsworth and Frank Zappa are the main artists who come to mind when a comparison is needed). The use of the counterpoint adds a classical influence to their music. Overall, the music here is something very unique that leans mainly towards jazz-fusion but with some metallic riffs. It is very thrilling and you never get bored of the result. Moreover, as you will notice while looking at the song titles, they are quite funny and so is the music, the three musicians involved in this project managing to play on the one hand with a high level of technicity and on the other hand with a certain sense of humour ( " A wild hare" was inspired by the music of cartoon movies), the guitar sounding at times as if it was a dialogue between two persons (or I should say animals as we're speaking of cartoon-inspired music) . However don't expect any emotion in this music, it is very technical and funny but there is nothing here that could make you weep. To sum up, I would say this is a milestone in the story of metal music as nothing like that was released previously in this realm and it is a successful attempt to mix jazz-fusion and metal. Recommended for people who like challenging instrumental music.
Review by hdfisch
5 stars This album is just amazing and mind blowing, it's better and more intricate than any other release in all the ProgMetal sub-genre. There are fifty minutes full of complex music with awesome rhythm changes without any break or fillers played by three musicians with a very high level skill. There is not any self-indulgent soloing present and guitar, bass and drums are working together just perfectly. In fact Ink Complete is such a unique masterpiece that it would be good enough for 10 stars and that's not only my own opinion, it's been confirmed in many reviews in webzines all over the world. It's very hard for me to describe what's the music sound like. It does not have much to do with metal actually and stands high above everything. Probable most of average metal fans would refuse to listen to it claiming this kind of music is much too technical. But it's for sure not "technical for the sake of it". As well there isn't almost any similarity left to the music of WATCHTOWER although being the origin of this specific sub-genre.

A Wild Hare for example is the transition of an old "Bambi-cartoon" film score to guitar/bass/drums and Ron Jarzombek is playing all the dialogue including sniffs and throat-clearings on guitar. In A Morning With Squeakie Ron is playing a cartoon score of his own and it's just awesome. There are as well very beautiful melodies like To Counter And Groove In E Minor to relax a little bit from the high speed race. The album is so diverse, every track is a bit different and is demanding one's full attention all the time. I think it's much better than any album by high speed guitar masters like SATRIANI and STEVE VAI.

As a CONCLUSION I just can say, if you love high class intricate music you have to grab this album immediately. Really a pity that there are only 5 stars available to give.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Wow! To categorize this album is something not really obvious: let's say it is almost as metal as fusion with progressive structures! Well, there are so many things to say about this record! If there are no other artists who sound like Spastic Ink, then they probably created a new progressive subgenre.

This record really demonstrates an absolute technical exhibition of 3 virtuosos: indeed, the omnipresent "fast as lightning" guitar solos sound a bit like Yngwie Malmsteen's stuff, although they are less symphonic; there are many guitar bits that have the Allan Holdsworth's style, when Jarzombek does not play with a distortion effect; the extremely complex and refined bass performance is easily comparable to the Jeff Berlin's or Jaco Pastorius' ones; finally, the impossible drums totally defy the laws of repeatability, simplicity and conformism.

The music is VERY intermittent, fully punctuated by pauses followed by brief but extreme pulses of loaded music: it evokes the displacement of a squirrel: it is very nervous, never the same, fast and not previsional. The guitarist is able to be quite melodic, like on the funny "Wild hare" track. The musicians constantly take a brief pause between every musical peak because it is humanly impossible to keep their infernal cadence all the time! Sometimes the guitarist uses some guitar effects other than distortion: that's why he may sound like Allan Holdsworth, Joe Satriani, Steve Vaļ or Vinnie Moore. The guitarist knows how to sound very good, like on the catchy "Eights is enough": a further exploration in this direction would have been interesting too.


Review by 1800iareyay
4 stars Spastic Ink is the brainchid of ex-Watchtower guitarist Ron Jarzombeck. Together with his brother Bobby on drums and bassit Pete Perez, he unleashed this unbelievably technical trio in 97. Ink Complete almost redefines complexity in music. Bobby's bizarre cymbal fills have made him probably the most technically proficient drummer in metal, though he sacrifices feel. He almost sounds like a drum machine, only so much better and more precise. Ron tempers his metallic guitar with more Holdsworth-esque jazziness. Pete's bass is every bit a bizarre and complex as the other two. The fault of this album is that it is so technical that you'll listen to it a few times and switch to music that was written on Earth.

Musicians will delight in this virtuostic display that could shmae even Dream Theater, but it lacks the groove of the instrumental jazz or fusion albums that the band obvious tried to master. Highly recommended for musicians.

Review by OpethGuitarist
3 stars Shock the world.

Fans of Watchtower, this is your instrumental band of the same group. Some of the most hyper-technical music you will find, Spastic Ink is a project in execution. This is jazz fusion on steroids, the kind BB would use. A word of caution would be not to expect any Gilmour-esque passages.

Among quirky titles we have a dazzling display of virtuosity. Odd time signatures, complex passages, blistering speed, and a side dose of humor. The mad data race is my personal favorite, a tune for the technology age. The closer is also another stellar track.

In essence though, this is what it is, an exercise in technical fortitude. While the musicians are able to make many legendary players look like beginners, there is not enough here to make you want to repeat listening over a long period of time. Almost like a shock routine. It's cool the first few times but then becomes old hat. No denying of the talents of Jarzombek, but one might have hoped that he honed in on his songwriting skills a little more.

Review by FruMp
4 stars Wow, technical.

SPASTIC INK are a super-technical progressive metal group, headed by ex-WATCHTOWER (the first ever progressive metal band, a super technical thrash metal band) guitar genius Ron Jarzombek with his equally talented brother bobby on drums with Pete Perez on bass rounding out the technical power trio.

Although as I keep mentioning the music is stupidly technical with all kinds of stop/starts, odd time signatures and poly-rhythms it is always melodic and most of the time quite cheeky which separates the band significantly from most technical metal bands in fact in spirit the band aren't terribly metallic at all.

It was hard to pick out highlights on this album for me mainly because there is so much information to process but the opener 'A mad data race' is certainly an early highlight and is probably the most accessible song on the album with something of a recurring regular structure. 'A wild hare' is my standout favourite it's apparently the band's musical interpretation of a scene from the cartoon movie classic 'Bambi', it's amazingly upbeat and cheeky although perhaps frustratingly technical at times.

The instrumentation on this album is terrifying, it's one thing to play really fast shred but it's an entirely different thing to play really fast, technical shred with odd syncopation and precision timing, the whole band is amazingly tight, I don't think I've heard a tighter band.

Overall Ink Complete is a very original and adventurous album recommended to the same kind of people, be warned though it's not for the faint of heart. Fans of WATCHTOWER, ATHEIST and BEHOLD... THE ARCTOPUS will surely enjoy.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars SPASTIC INK could be described as the child of WATCHTOWER that came to life after the ''death'' of the later band.The main figure of the band is Ron Jarzombek,who was also member of WATCHTOWER.Unlike WATCHTOWER,SPASTIC INK's music has some atmospheric moods and some humour tenendecies.All these are mixed perfectly with the excellent technical/jazz metal that the band plays in this album.Another difference with WATCHTOWER is that the thrash influences are there,but there at least limited. Simply a must have for lovers of technical prog music...
Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars In the liner notes the band thank a lot of individuals but they also thank: "Our friends in DREAM THEATER and FATES WARNING". Pretty cool to see lead guitarist Ron Jarzombek playing with his brother Bobby, who plays drums.Talented family. Pete Perez plays bass and thanks "beer" in the liner notes. Haha. This is a lot of fun, and in the liner notes there's a cartoon picture beside each song and a story about that tune.That humour and the vocals are the main differences between this and "Control And Resistance" by WATCHTOWER. Funny but I like that WATCHTOWER album quite a bit more, even with the "over the top" vocals. Maybe part of my problem is having spent a lot of time with Ron's latest instrumental band called BLOTTED SCIENCE which for me is a lot more enjoyable than this. I just find this album hit and miss.

The biggest "miss" is the only song they didn't compose called "A Wild Hare". I just can't get past the Steve Vai-like guitar on this one. I wish they just stuck to their own music. You know the way Vai makes his guitar almost speak, well that's what Ron's doing on this track for the most part. There's a lot more to like on this album then dislike though. "See, And It's Sharp" is great because it's darker and doesn't sound like the rest. I like when the drums come in then let off. Back and forth. The guitar then comes in sounding amazing."Eights Is Enough" is more relaxed for a change and darker. The guitar before 3 minutes is the best part of the album.

Technical music doesn't always work for me, but I love it when it does.This is a cd I don't really enjoy enough to give 4 stars. It's worth more then that for the playing alone, but I just don't get off on it like I do on SPIRAL ARCHITECT, ZERO HOUR or BLOTTED SCIENCE. I probably would have given it 4 stars if the longest track "A Wild Hare" wasn't on here. 3.5 stars.

Review by The Pessimist
4 stars For those that like your music technical, you may look no further than this album. For those of you that like your music so technical it will disintegrate your brain cells just THINKING about it... then you may also look no further. Because I present to you THE MOST technical metal album I have ever heard from anyone. Yes, even more technical than Spastic Ink's latter album, any of Ron Jarzombek's other projects and even more technically challenging than Behold... The Arctopus's music, this is by far a force to be reckoned with. Hell, I even played this to my friend that conducts brass music from the modern classical era, and even HE said he'd have a hard time keeping up with this. Brace yourself folks.

However, Ink Complete is not entirely void of melody and musical credit. Nope, everything in here has a catchy line somewhere, or some kind of groovy polymeter, so even if it mashes your head like a potato, you can potentially be entertained by this.

Now I'm one of these sick people that gets entertained by superhuman musical ability, so you can imagine how into this album I am. Personal favourite tunes have to be the opener, See, It's A Sharp!, Suspended on All Fours and Half and Harm Time-Baking Shuffle. However, the one the really stands out for me is the closing track. If you are looking for some of the greatest display of musicianship from all three instruments (guitar bass and drums) and are sick of those twangy solo offs in live Yes DVDs, then skip Mosquito Brain Surgery to about the 3rd minute and have a ganders. Just to get a feel for, you know, what this album is about...

The scarier thing about Ink Complete though is not the musicianship or the technicallity (although I will admit now these guys' skills give me nightmares when I'm not on vallium), but it's the fact that hardly anyone has heard of the musicians featured on this disk. I must admit, this CD was MY first exposure. But I will never ever forget the Jarzombeks and their pet bassist.

They're playing is now embedded in my brain, and now whenever anyone mentions either of the Jarzombek brothers, I either say "greatest guitarist I ever heard" or "greatest drummer I ever heard". And now that anyone mentions Robert Fripp or John Petrucci or even Chuck Schuldiner (my all time metal hero), I instantly mention how much Ron dwarfs their playing. If anyone ever mentions Tomas Haake or Mike Portnoy or even Gene Hoglan, I instantly tell them how much more creative, agile and technically excellent Bobby is. Because the fact of the matter is, the Jarzombek brothers are the two most talented musicians in Rock and Metal, and this CD is 11 tracks of them at their very finest, with an equally astounding bassist on board.

Go ahead. Try it. Have a listen. I warn you though, hold your face on while you hear it because it will more than likely be torn off within the first 5 minutes!

For sheer impact and craftsmanship, I'm going to have to rate it 4 stars at least. However because the album hasn't touched me emotionally like a masterpiece should, I will rate it no more than 4. So looks like 4 stars it is.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Spastic Ink' - Ink Complete (8/10)

When listening to one of guitar virtuoso Ron Jarzombek's more recent projects- Blotted Science's 'The Machinations Of Dementia'- I could not have been more blown away by the sheer technical ferocity of the man's vision and composition. As much a brilliant mathematician as he is a guitarist, Jarzombek has impressed me with everything I've heard of his, and Spastic Ink's debut has been no exception to that. Although not a entirely emotive piece of work, 'Ink Complete' is a musician's dream listening experience, and should see fit to stretch lobes of even a Calculus major.

The first thing I notice with the music of Spastic Ink is that it is a fair bit less heavy that what I've heard of Jarzombek's work before; the album is worked through by lead guitar, bass, and drums. Occasionally, the electric guitar will be overdubbed a few times for harmonies and added rhythms, but for what turns out to be incredibly complex music, it is surprising that there are only three instruments and musicians at work here. Of course, my reason for going into this was to hear some more of Ron Jarzombek's work, and its clear he does take the spotlight here in most cases. Whether he is making intensely mathematical chugging riffs, shredding or doing thoughtful and melodic leads, the music of 'Ink Complete' draws around virtually whatever he does, with the other two musicians taking more of a support role. Bassist Pete Perez and drummer Bobby Jarzombek are both worthy of praise however. Bobby nicely compliments the constantly changing time signatures by adding plenty of fills and intricacy that makes his performance here much more than for the sake of merely keeping time. Pete Perez is the least remarkable member here, feeling as if he is often overshadowed by the wizardry of Ron and Bobby. His skill is evident in the moments he is really able to let loose with his playing.

It does feel as if Spastic Ink would be a much more enjoyable project if it was somewhat more band-oriented as opposed to being so highly guitar driven. Also, what Spastic Ink makes up in their technical and compositional wizardry here, they do lose in emotional appeal. Although one can listen to this album and see it has being a technical masterpiece by all accounts (as virtually everything Ron Jarzombek has done turns out to be) but there are only a few scarce moments in the album that really caught my feelings. Chief among these would be the second track 'A Morning With Squeakie', which is relatively quite melodic and upbeat. The real crown here however goes to 'The Wild Hare', which is a playful masterpiece both in composition and instrumental feeling.

An excellent album, and while Jarzombek has clearly done better, 'Ink Complete' is a wonderful piece of technical progressive metal.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is a creative, spirited, original body of instrumental music. People who enjoy technicality and musicianship will like this. Though it's mainly technical, there is a lot of melody. It's just not slow and simple. :) The guitarist, Rob Jarzombek, is obviously the mastermind behind this ... (read more)

Report this review (#291595) | Posted by un4td | Friday, July 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Hmmmm.... I don't know about this.... I have to say I'm a man who appreciates but doesn't really like the efforts of bands like Dream Theater or Watchtower and generally bands who force themselves to write "complicated" music without any reason. I know that many of you will disagree with me. M ... (read more)

Report this review (#90586) | Posted by sularetal | Wednesday, September 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars DREAM THEATER with a more jazzy sound on high gear? Or AL DIMEOLA in a more modern and heavy style? It certainly is fast enough. A screaming guitar and lots of double bass drum dominate most of the album. These three guys make a lot of sound, and they're doing it in a professional way. The tem ... (read more)

Report this review (#55630) | Posted by | Wednesday, November 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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