Heavy Metal at the Mining Co. - Matthew Barber

Band names conjure up all sorts of visions both good and bad. Sometimes they offer a peek into the personality of a band, and other times they prove to be entirely misleading. But what comes to mind when you hear "Spastic Ink"? A pen with a nervous condition? Well, close. Actually, the band, consisting of six stringed ace Ron Jarzombek, of Watchtower fame, brother Bobby, and Pete Perez, both from Riot, define "Spastic Ink" as "crazy, written out music". And in this case, the name is more or less a plot summary of the band's debut album. On "Ink Complete", Spastic Ink unleash a collection of wildly inventive, creatively ungoverned, mind-bending tunes.

What does it mean to be creatively ungoverned? Well, how about whatever comes to mind and sounds good, no matter how unusual, or how far past the normal standard, is perfectly acceptable. And on "Ink Complete", anything goes. Just a peek at the song titles should be more than enough to clue you in that this is not your average album instrumental or otherwise. As is evidenced in titles like "Eighths Is Enough", "Mosquito Brain Surgery", "A Wild Hare", and "To Counter And Groove In E Minor", the track names, much like the album title, are generally a plot summary for the composition. So with such an unusual, and quirky, collection of titles, you can only expect something a little different when it comes to the music itself. Which is of course the fact of the matter.

Anyone familiar with Ron's work with Watchtower knows that the man can play. In fact, he is one of the more under recognized masters of the instrument. Shred may be an art discovered by others, but it is more than that to Ron. It is something that he has taken hold of, altered, re-worked, and claimed as his own. In the midst of his classically inspired handiwork, Ron loves to rip it up. And mix it up. The flow of the guitar work on this album is seamless, and it shows that not only is Ron one of the better players ever to pick up a guitar, but he is also one of the more visionary writers to ever put pen to paper. And then of course, it didn't hurt that Ron was able to take advantage of the natural chemistry brought about by writing with his brother, Bobby.

Much like the drumming of Alex Van Halen pushed Eddie into the spotlight to be recognized as one of the all-time greats, Bobby's drumming is absolutely critical to the groundbreaking genius found on "Ink Complete". And although it would be easy for the masses to give the drumming little notice while being wowed by the nimble-fingered guitar wizardry of his brother, without an equally masterful performance on the drums it would all be for naught. Bobby's drumming is a notch above with wild rhythm changes, and laser like accuracy.

Rounding out the line-up is bassist Pete Perez, best known for his work with Riot. And perhaps his experience working with Bobby is the one key elements that really pays off on the album. His bass is an instrument, make no mistake. So if you're looking for a typical performance on the four string, try looking somewhere else. Pete's bass isn't plucking a nice complement to the beat, it's adding a whole new dimension to the music. It play off the drums and guitar, living in a symbiotic relationship, giving and taking until all three are much better than the individual parts.

What you get from Spastic Ink is more than the typical. You get the extraordinary. You get groundbreaking play from three highly-skilled musicians who aren't afraid to explore the limits of their ability. And this is truly what sets "Ink Complete" apart as one of the more innovative pieces of music to be exposed this decade.

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