Album Reviews

Amogh Symphony – The Quantum Hack Code

  • Review by: Ankit Baraskar

Disclaimer: This is going to be a slightly longer review compared to the usual. Because this album is most likely going up as my top album of 2010, hence a slightly in-depth analysis should not seem out of place. For those not inducted into their music, Amogh Symphony is – Vishal singh on guitars, keyboards,bass, programming electronic percussion and background music. Jim Richman accompanies him on drums on this record.

Amogh Symphony’s instrumental music has always been something akin to a metal soundtrack to a futuristic(not to mention post apocalyptic) movie, as was seen in Abolishing The Obsolete system, where the only explanation the listener could get was either from Vishal Singh himself or from the song names. But here the maestro offers us the full monty, with voiceovers narrating the storyline as the album progresses. This makes the album brain-wrenchingly intricate, considering the number of layers in each song, the polyrhythmic percussion (even layered percussions – Jim Richman is joined in by programmed drums in several sections), the lightning fast shred guitar and the funky bass going pop and slap every now and then…all given proper emphasis throughout. The distortion guitar is a mix of harmonies, dissonant riffing, along with some palm muted chugging rhythms. A host of scales have been used – both western and eastern, along with jazz/blues influences becoming apparent in the clean bits. The electronica is pretty intense too, sometimes reminiscient of powernoise/dark electro/industrial groups such as Xentrifuge.

The story is based in a world where humanity is sort of..cryogenically preserved, with their minds in a state of ‘samadhi’, and their consciousness coded into a Q-Web. The concept is quite similar to that of the Matrix, except that its even more incomprehensible and complex, with the music making it slightly difficult to concentrate on the actual plot. (Not that I’m complaining). Moreover, Chela Harper’s voice fits the music perfectly, much like vocal work on post rock acts such as Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia and GY!BE.

Though you would expect an album with a futuristic them such as this to follow ‘djent’ sensibilities when it comes to the guitar sound, Vishal Singh surprisingly adopts a slightly ‘rawer’ approach. Even the mastering hasn’t been done in the ‘brickwall’ style as is the case with most modern albums (I didn’t figure it out myself, go check Aditya Naik’s interview on youtube, or wiki ‘loudness war’). This allows the listener to experience each instrument in its own right, at its own natural level, preserving the dynamics of the sound, giving the listener a lot more control over the sound, in the sense that tweaking around with your equalizer will actually make a difference to the sound without distorting it too much.

This album gives it all – progressive, jazz, funk, blues, flamenco, tech-death, classical, even trance. Vishal Singh’s music has evolved to the point where it took me 8 listens to be even vaguely confident about writing a review. But that does not imply it being a blatant display of virtuosity and technical prowess. The slower passages accentuate the dystopian feel that this album tries to get across quite succinctly, and the last track “The Collapse of Q-Web And Osiris” portrays the revival of humanity exceedingly well.

Complaints? Well, the first few listens can be tough even for those accustomed to the most technical, layered music possible, and one is left wondering if there has been an excess of detailing. But that, in my opinion is the beauty of this album, that each listen brings forth something new and unexpected to light. Chela Harper’s mispronunciations of ‘samadhi’ and other such Indian words is slightly jarring, though somewhat unavoidable as it has to go with the accent. One wonders if this stuff can ever be played live as tight as it sounds on the album, and if Jim Richman shall indeed be able to pull off the tasteful and groovy percussion in sync with the crazy programmed electronic beats and tabla. The artwork is intricate and expressive, though one feels that the logo could’ve been designed better.

Final rating? 9.9/10. Vishal Singh has established himself with this record as one of the most creative and innovative metal musicians, with this music transcending genre barriers and establishing itself as a genre of its own. As Marilyn Manson would’ve said, this is the new shit.

You can pre-order the album here if you’re getting too impatient, or wait for an Indian record label to release it at a slightly cheaper price. Either way, this is for keeps, a 48 minute trip into epic insanity with music as the sole stimulant.

Songs to watch out for : Osiris 1, X-Karna, Karnosiris

P.S – This album is dedicated by Vishal Singh to Chuck Schuldiner. Respect.