Conquering Dystopia – Conquering Dystopia
Release Date: March 10, 2014
Due to the lack of funds in the modern world, faced by many artists all over the world – mainly due to piracy, most of them are resorting to crowd funding campaigns. Conquering Dystopia is one such endeavor. Just like many instru-metal acts, the lineup of “Conquering Dystopia” is star-studded. Lead guitar king Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore) shreds away with some of the best licks that death metal might have ever seen. Likewise fret wizard Keith Merrow (Demisery, Merrow) commands the bone-crushing grooves. Fretless bass master, Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse, Blotted Science) does what he does best while drummer Alex Rudinger ( The Faceless) simply destroys. All of these musicians are well occupied with their main bands, so one would expect to hear a collective of ideas that have been shelved as they did not suit with their main projects. It seems as though we receive exactly that, with Jeff satisfying his thirst for shredding, and Rudinger as well getting his share of sped-up brutality. Webster and Marrow play their role as the backbone of the band really well.
Jeff Loomis is completely ruthless when it comes to unleashing his furious licks and solos throughout the whole record. They are not merely mediocre solos that were disposed to fit the seemingly empty spaces in the mix. Instead, they are writings that have been penned down by one of the greatest metal composers of our time. They are fresh, and are a treat to hear in the midst of the chaos that this record offers. Each of his solos are very carefully thought out, composed and well placed. Keith Marrow does an amazing job with his incredibly groovy rhythmic fills to supplement the lethal dosages of guitar brilliance that we receive. While talking about guitars, something that really stands out in the mix is the guitar tone. Looks like these two maestros have succumbed to the Axe FX fever that the guitar world is currently going through. Jeff seems to have found the tone that he’s been looking for, after quite some time. It does closely resemble his solo album’s tone, but the lower chords and the chug riffs seem very djent-esque. As is evident, he’s definitely played around with his Fractal Audio toy, and done something different to the mids of his tone. As an endorser, the EMG 707 pickups seem to be serving him well. Guitar geeks are probably going to be searching hard for a similar guitar patch, or trying to match it as closely as possible with their amp modelers. In contrast to his other projects, Alex Rudinger is evidently and consistently faster. He has gotten the opportunity to unleash his mad skills behind the kit non-stop and has utilized that opportunity fully, since this record is a pure death metal venture. Alex Webster is his same old self, skillfully guiding each track with his technical skills and over-the-top bass tone. His input is the writing process is predominantly evident.
This project started out with death metal, and only death metal in mind. Sure there are a lot of modern elements in the record, but it delivers the same amount of aggression that death metal from the good old days used to. The intro song, ‘Prelude to Disaster’ is an intro like no other. All of the musicians in the lineup seem almost impatient to smother our no-good faces with their hard-hitting compositions. The next two tracks “Tethys” and “Ashes of a Lesser Man” are absolutely loaded with the amazing groovy and technical bits that the best of these geniuses are capable of delivering. The next highlight of the record is “Kufra at Dusk”, which almost seems like a tribute track to Behemoth. Best part of the second half. As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of djent elements present throughout the record, although there is an evident effort to keep the vibe a death metal one. Throughout the record, Loomis’ lead work is predominant, and it can seem to overpower. Loomis is generally fond of incorporating his own ideas only. He tries to do different in this record, but he only does an adequate job of being a team player. I would’ve personally liked to hear more of Keith Marrow’s work, which is constantly drowned out by Loomis.
Production quality is really something to talk about. Anyone with good experience with an equalizer can make the songs sound however they like. The production is very light, but sufficient. Personally, I would have liked the bass track to have been a little louder.
Unless it is progressive metal, you do not hear about a lot of artists releasing instrumental albums. Also, the boys have not experimented as much as they could have. The record holds together well, but it holds together as a big fat blob of death metal. Being an instrumental record, variation is very important. The album is saturated, or rather overpowered with lead work by Loomis. I would’ve desired more rhythm and groove work from the band as a whole. If they have achieved what they wanted to with this release, then all is well and good. But my opinion from a fan’s standpoint will remain the same – they have disappointed when it comes to variation. But in other regards, they have come close to nailing it, easily bringing about destruction from every single possible direction. The record tends to get stale after a while, but the overall musicianship is something that makes this record worth listening to.