December 9, 2009

The Arkitecht-Hyperstructure Review

The Arkitecht is an interesting take on metal music. A “one man band” type project, put together by Genaro Ochoa, it was created to prove that musicians do not have to be dependent upon other musicians, to create the typical “band” sound and feel. A difficult undertaking in itself, The Arkitecht has released one album to date, Hyperstructure. With this release, does he achieve the desired effect? In a word-absolutely.

The term “one man band” used in this context is misleading, however. It would be difficult for one person to take all the responsibilities of creating an album, and even then, you wouldn't be able to guarantee its quality. In Hyperstructure, Ochoa did, in fact, write and produce all songs on the albums, as well as play rhythm guitars, keyboards, some guitar solos, bass, and do the drum programming. He was also in charge of art direction for the album, which I might add is some of the most abstract, fascinating album art I’ve ever seen. But, understandably, even one with the best ideas may not have the technical ability to make those ideas happen. So, in this case, Ochoa has employed the talents of a few other musicians, one for lead guitar and two for sharing vocal duties, with excellent results.

Hyperstructure starts off with “Blackout.” A quiet opening but intense opening, leads into some very nice acoustic guitar work. And then the vocals come in: clean and low, with a distinct, beautiful tone, that adapt with a more harsh sound very effectively in heavier sections. The piano adds a perfect facet to this track, creating a unique beauty.

“Through The Broken Glass” takes a much different turn in regards to style. It adds a new, slightly bizarre mystique to The Arkitecht’s array of sounds. It begins very dark in nature, with lots of effects on the considerably lighter styled vocals, which in this case are completely suitable. It suddenly morphs into a heavy chant of sorts, ending with an excellent wah guitar solo, very chilling vocals, and a seamless lead into the next track, the unmistakably progressive “Elation.”

The album explores many different styles and influences throughout. Anyone familiar with the popular metal acts of today will notice distinct similarities to Swedish metal band Opeth, and appropriately is named for The Arkitecht’s biggest metal influence. Between the intricate acoustic intros and abrupt heavy transitions of “Blackout” and the similarly styled title track, it’s a wonder that Opeth had no involvement in this. Even the growling vocals of “Hyperstructure” would give Mikael Ã…kerfeldt a run for his money. The other vocalist, however, takes on a much different tone, one comparable to Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine in terms of enunciation, only with more focus on technical proficiency.

The final track, “Face Thief”, is indeed a monster of a track. A thirty-two minute song, now the longest one in my collection by a good ten minutes, it is a perfect depiction of epic music. It’s very orchestral in nature, taking the form of something like a film score. This is appropriate given the fact that it is, in part, based on a script. It is equal parts metal and classically styled, following a plot based around Lazarus, a serial killer, also known as the “Face Thief”, and the narrator’s regret and the burden he takes on for teaching his skills to Lazarus that are now used for dark purposes. It’s literally a mind-blowing track, bringing together everything the listener has heard, and considerably more: from an unusual electronic influence, to chilling choirs. Understandably, however, the listener may find themselves overwhelmed by the length, and it could have been better suited as a standalone concept album.

This was, without a doubt, an incredible album. There is so much to say about it that cannot be said in a simple review. It brings together heavy metal and progressive sensibilities, blended so perfectly into something unique, and completely outstanding. Progressive music, of all types, takes some getting used to for some, however. The constant changes in tempo and time may overwhelm a casual listener, and I will admit that even some transitions, mostly in “Face Thief” may strike the listener to be off or even awkward. But this is a simply minor detail. I cannot express how incredible this is: from the musicianship, to the mixing, to the expression of so many different creative characteristics. It’s a huge undertaking, but The Arkitecht has done it. Hyperstructure is a masterpiece.

5/5 Stars

Sara Cooper

December 8, 2009

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