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SPASTIC INK

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States


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Spastic Ink biography
SPASTIC INK originally consisted of ex-WATCHTOWER member Ron Jarzombek (guitars, programming, composition, lyrics & production), Pete Perez on bass and brother Bobby Jarzombek on drums (both coming from Heavy Metal band RIOT). With this line-up they released their first all instrumental album Ink Complete. For their second album Ink Compatible which took them more than four years for its making singer Jason McMaster (ex-WATCHTOWER) plus a bunch of well known guest musicians like Daniel Gildenlvw (PAIN OF SALVATION, Marty Friedman (MEGADETH, CACOPHONY) or Jens Johansson (MALMSTEEN) have been added up.

The music on both of their albums which are masterpieces in Technical Metal is very intricate combining influences from multiple music genres. Somehow one could call it a more advanced and more diverse version of WATCHTOWER's music, who are regarded as "inventors" of this sub-genre.

Musicianship is brilliant showing a high leveled skill by playing mind blowing riffs in an incredible high speed and complex odd-timed rhythms with lots of sudden shifts. Lyrics on Ink Compatible are rather weird, ironic and somehow reminiscent of FRANK ZAPPA or MR BUNGLE.
Both albums should not only apply to fans of WATCHTOWER, but as well to all lovers of adventurous and inventive music, i.e. fans of FRANK ZAPPA, MR BUNGLE, STEVE VAI or RIO music.

: : : Dieter Fischer (Germany): : :

See also:

- Blotted Science
- Ron Jarzombek
- Watchtower

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SPASTIC INK discography


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SPASTIC INK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.94 | 68 ratings
Ink Complete
1997
3.88 | 71 ratings
Ink Compatible
2004

SPASTIC INK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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SPASTIC INK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ink Compatible by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.88 | 71 ratings

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Ink Compatible
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Ink Complete by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.94 | 68 ratings

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Ink Complete
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Ink Compatible by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.88 | 71 ratings

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Ink Compatible
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by watchmen

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.

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 Ink Complete by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.94 | 68 ratings

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Ink Complete
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by un4td

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 album. His playing is creative, rambunctious, and impeccable. His solos are beautiful.

Pete Perez, the bassist, is damn good. He can keep up with Rob's fast playing, his solos are nice and melodic, and he has a nice bass tone - it doesn't get all noodley and high-pitched.

The drumming on this album is top-notch thanks to Bobby Jarzombek. He has some major chops, intricate phrasing, and flawless timing. I highly doubt there is nothing he is unable to do percussion-wise. His playing on this album is very technical, and usually aligned with the guitar or bass.

I have qualms about two things: one - the guitar is too high and there isn't enough bass, and two, some of the tracks focus a little too much on technicality, sacrificing groove.

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 Ink Complete by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.94 | 68 ratings

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Ink Complete
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Pessimist
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Ink Complete by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.94 | 68 ratings

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Ink Complete
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Ink Compatible by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.88 | 71 ratings

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Ink Compatible
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by topofsm

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.

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 Ink Compatible by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.88 | 71 ratings

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Ink Compatible
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator 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.

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 Ink Complete by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.94 | 68 ratings

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Ink Complete
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

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...

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 Ink Compatible by SPASTIC INK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.88 | 71 ratings

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Ink Compatible
Spastic Ink Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by FruMp
Prog Reviewer

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.

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