Spastic Ink - Ink Complete
Review by Chris Condos, Sweet Suffering

Although having read only good things about this album, I wasnít too eager to have it, since itís an all-instrumental. Instrumental music ever since Joey DeMaioís bass solo on Black Arrows of Death, the word instrumental has sent shivers down my spine. As you mightíve read, Iím one of those that believe that vocals are the most important element of music. And I am sent an instrumental album! Well, what can a man do but accept his fate, no matter how sad it might be (Iíd like to thank the Academy)

Spastic Ink is a project consisting of the two brothers Ron (guitars, Watchtower) and Bobby (drums, Halford, ex-Riot) Jarzombek and ex-Riot bass player Pete Perez. Ink Complete is their debut album on Dream Circle Records from 1997. Itís been sold-out for a while and is now being re-issued by the guysí own label (Eclectic Electric) and, for the very first time, the disc is domestically available in the US, complete with a somewhat redesigned artwork and also an unlisted bonus track of twenty-five minutes, consisting of old work tapes/demos.

The album opens up with the furious 'The Mad Data Race' (oh, you think that title is cheesy? Just wait and see), which is like having an electric wasp inside your head, buzzing fiercely in your ears. That guitar is everywhere, but, man, that is tight! Holy shit! They are indeed very skilled musicians top notch, without a doubt. Especially Ron, that guy can perform! Next up is 'A Morning With Squeakie' (Sqeakie is a squirrel, by the way). If the previous track showed their capacity of speed, this one is more about melodies, but trust me, it doesnít slow down very much because of that! Dynamic! This one follows the concept of old classical music (and by this, I mean real classical music, like Bach, Mozart, etc), i.e. the songs tell a sort of story, without mentioning a word. You must close your eyes and picture it in your head, use your illusion.

'Just A Little Dirty' is exactly that; a little dirty, a little rougher Ďround the edges, a bit rawer. That one is followed by 'See, And Itís Sharp!', played entirely in two notes (C and #C), so as you might understand itís a bit darker than the rest. A very simple structure, but nonetheless brilliantly performed. But, hey, who expected something else?

But the most impressive track on the entire disc is without a doubt the sixth track, named 'A Wild Hare'. Itís based on a classic animation (the press release claims it to be an except from 'Bambi', but the CD booklet tells otherwise; I donít know). Anyway, this is where the guys really had to put their minds to it; several hours were spent converting the sounds of the movie (speech, song, violins, piccolos, flutes, percussion, etc) into something that could be played with guitar, bass and drums. All of the guys really get to play their balls off on this eight minutes plus track, with all the melody and tempo changes you can think of. This would prove once and for all that metal musicians are indeed a very gifted breed. The twelfth track (the bonus) contains mostly short demo versions of the tracks on the album, although some stuff does sound new.

When you listen to this, you really think to yourself: I wonder how this would sound with vocals, as it seems pretty impossible to put a voice to these sounds, which already are telling a story. Nonetheless, Spastic Inkís next release ('Ink Compatible') will feature the vocals of Jason McMaster (Watchtower) and also other appearances from people like bassists Steve DiGeorgio (Testament) and Ray Riendeau (Halford), drummer Richard Christy (Iced Earth, Control Denied, Death, Demons & Wizards) and many, many more.

Well, the time has come to pass the judgment am I supposed to tell you what I think about it or how good it is? Is it possible to love an album because of its brilliancy, its technical qualities, and still not like it so much, because youíre not into that kind of thing? I believe so. It takes patience to sit through seventy-three minutes of bass/drums/guitar masturbation. This album probably would get an even more decent review from someone more into the whole instrumental thing. But it sure was a pleasant trip and now Iím really curious how their second album will sound! (Rating: 7.5/10)

Chris Condos, Sweet Suffering

Return to title page