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Matt Chanway – Self-titled – Album Review

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Coming from metal act Assimilation, Vancouver’s Matt Chanway has a lot to live up to on his self-titled solo record. The record shows a lot of amazing ability that metal heads will love and has enough of the style that made greats like Chris Broderick, Greg Howe and George Lynch influence artists like Chanway over the years to prove he’s got something up his sleeve.

The machine gun like rhythms, particularly from the drums on opening track “Evidence of the Arcane,” conjure up a dark vision of Chanway’s world. The overt technicality is almost too much on this track, and some of the switches from vicious rush to unnerving chug make a track that constantly keeps you on edge. “The Receiver of Wisdom” offers a brighter backing to its endless barrage of beats. The flurries of notes are broken up with much more groove driven sections that give more context and room for the thrash to play on and the playfulness of the outro is strangely fun.

The heavy crush returns on “Harbinger 2.1” which starts on a pulsing intro before launching into its mix of intentionally choppy guitars and drums, and some juicy licks from guitar to guitar. The song is truly at its best when the drums and guitar have room to open up and move freely, creating feelings of release every time it happens. It’s fire from the get go on “271114” where Chanway is a bat out of hell just pushing his relentless beats and riffs until almost halfway through the song where only some space is given every few notes. This said it almost feels to relentless and continuous as by halfway through the track the feeling is too familiar and the lack of shifting moments in the track, let alone room to breathe make it feel repetitive.

The dynamic shifts make “Eyes in the Sky” a unique beast on the album, with the stops providing the thrashings return with more reason. The freestyle guitar that flutters over the slashing rhythms are as frantic as they are apocalyptic, and are as impressive as they are fast. The song’s final rush feels like a race to the finish also crafting a mini-melody within itself that leaves the listener wanting more. Closing track “Lucidity” fits in some of the most satisfying drums on the record, a disturbing mix of guitar lines and some of the finest melodies on the record. The voicing Chanway pulls out on his guitar in place of vocals are a welcome replacement and make the track feel like it offers even more than the songs before it.

Matt Chanway‘s self-titled record is a technical showcase for the ages, and crams every last note into its composition. With this however, the tracks feel tiring in their relentlessness at times and until “Lucidity” feel to samey, more from a lack of variation within each track than to suggest each track sounds the same. If Chanway can channel the originality of his closing track going forward though he’ll have something powerful in his hands for the future.

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