I have always found Canadian Metal completely without boundaries, with no set style or sound that specifically defines it as Canadian, instead choosing to be inspired by a broad array of global influences they deem the best and adding their own individual slant to a sound.
Canadian experimental Metal outfit Super Massive Black Holes formed in 2010 as a casual "play-anything" project, the brainchild of Denver Bergreen (guitar, ex-bassist 'Chaos Logic'), along with Jake Reimer (guitar, bassist/vocalist 'Statue Of Demur') Clay Steadman (drums, 'Inspected By 40', ex-'Seven Deadly Grins') and Tristan Peterson (bass 'Skulldozer') are even more unrestrained than their fellow countrymen.
Their debut release, 'Calculations Of The Ancients', is a unique blend of death Metal, rock, technical, jazz-fusion and progressive with a hint of blues and probably more besides. The result, after four years, is an intriguing and thought-provoking listen.
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The album consists of nine tracks packed with powerful grooves and spiralling melodies that, because of the broad spectrum of musical styles utilised, gives a final result that is uniquely different and often delightfully discordant, designed to zigzag across genres.
This is well demonstrated on the penultimate and longest track of the release, 'Ghosts Of Bhopal', whilst all the time maintaining their roots in Metal.
Lyrically, inspiration comes from concepts based on scientific principles, wrapped in metaphors from human experiences, beliefs, insecurities and questions about the world around us, something else that sets it aside from the norm.
The musicianship across the release is good, as you would expect from such an adventurous release and the vocals are death Metal in style, with a harsh edge to the roars and no cleans, making a very strong contrast, particularly against the jazz-fusion aspects and when opening track '(Sub-molecular) Transmogrification Of The Oriphy' began, I found myself open mouthed with surprise.
'Dyatlov Pass Incident' opens on a bass heavy and doom edged groove which helps break up the intensity well. Breaking up still further next is '∞÷µ' a brief, acoustic guitar led interlude before 'Distance To The Great Attractor'.
I have no strong favourites on this release, it's definitely an album you view as a whole and either like in its entirety, as I did, or not. What did attract my attention was the good use of sound-bites to open on both 'Holographic Principle' which has a superbly spooky opening and the final track 'Lift the Veils' with its somewhat scary distorted spoken intro, which sets the scene well. They also help to break the music up a bit and add extra interest.
Some of the tracks are have a lighter edge, particularly the guitar led instrumental 'Mathematics Of Emotion' and the track 'Refracted Kaleidoscopic Photons' also starts out that way but takes a brutal turn mid way as the vocals kick in and are embellished by spiralling riffs.
I have to commend 'Super Massive Black Holes' for 'Calculations Of The Ancients' as the whole project was a total DIY effort with everything being produced by guitarist Denver Bergreen, from the artwork and layout which looks crisp and professional to the engineering, mixing and mastering.
'Calculations Of The Ancients' is not an easy listen but I don't believe it was meant to be, however it is thought provoking and challenging. Oh, one final word of warning, this is not recommended listening with a hangover as this is an album that sends your head into a spin!