"Chromosphere" (Divebomb; 2021)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


"Chromosphere" is an instrumental album literally years in the making. I don't have the space (or the patience) to list the band's troubled history here, but do yourself a favor and Google it. It's an interesting story, and may help you understand this album just a little more.

As I listened to the six tracks on this album (nearly 50 minutes of music, the shortest track running at 4:27 and the longest at 13:25) I felt as though I was listening to a jazz album (maybe acid jazz) performed by heavy rockers. It's a listening experience that feels that it's all happening live and natural but can't possibly be because of the complexity of each and every tune. This isn't the kind of music you can listen to while you're doing another task; listening to "Chromosphere" requires focus and attention to detail. This means it can be a challenging but ultimately rewarding listening experience.

Its sound is difficult to describe but brings to mind the works of legendary artists like Derek Sherinian blended with an Nine Inch Nails vibe (but there's no industrial feel here). The musicianship is undeniable and the song structure and composition is nothing short of stunning.

I recommend you find a track or two from "Chromosphere" and give is a listen before you buy the complete album. My bet is that you're going to find it as fascinating as I did but only you can decide whether this is your cup of tea ... or not.

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"Irradiance" (Sensory; 2010)

Reviewed by Mike SOS


Instrumental progressive metal quintet Canvas Solaris unleash a nine-track album chock full of intricate arrangements and technical performance with "Irradiance."

This seasoned squad’s dizzying time signature switches and swirls of precision-driven fretwork make for a challenging yet ultimately satisfying listen for those familiar with the outer reaches of the metal spectrum.

Who needs vocals when you boast two shredding guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist whose synth work accentuates without going overboard, and a drummer that keeps the whole mix of heavy dissonance in check? Not these cats, as this Georgia-based crew finds a happy medium between their death metal roots and their exploratory endeavors here with dashes of world instrumentation and daring compositions spearheading the charge.

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"The Atomized Dream" (Sensory; 2008)

Reviewed by Mike SOS


Georgia-based Canvas Solaris ditch one member, pick up 3(!) more and take their instrumental interludes to another level in the process according to the findings audible on "The Atomized Dream."

This eight-track offering still remains steeped with progressive metal grandeur yet, thanks to a larger quantity of quieter moments such as "Photovoltaic," this disc just as well relishes in its grace.

While it takes more than a few listens to truly wrap your head around the arduously audacious affair, fans from the far-reaching metal sect will surely embrace the new sounds of the group's multi-layered musicianship thanks to the new blood injected into complex soundscapes such as "Solar Droid."

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"Penumbra Diffuse" (Sensory; 2006)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter


I was a little green with envy when I found out my colleague and good friend Snidermann got the opportunity to review Canvas Solaris’ “Sublimation” a while back. However, lucky me, I received Canvas Solaris’ latest release “Peunumbra Diffuse” for review.

Like most bands and CDs that are a bit difficult to categorize (or explain!) Canvas Solaris surely give every music reviewer a bit of a tough assignment due to their impressive array of challenging songs. Even after one listen I realized that “Penumbra Diffuse” is so good it actually made me a little fearful to write a review. Typically the words flow right out of me when I set my mind to describing what a band has to offer – but I was hard pressed to do that when dealing with the complex, intelligent brilliance that is “Penumbra Diffuse.”

Songwriting is a critical element of Canvas Solaris – you can tell from the riffs and the song structures that these songs weren’t thrown together. There is a sense that Canvas Solaris could have actually ‘over thought’ the songs on “Penumbra Diffuse” but there is a logical and casual flow even during the 11-plus minute tracks that defy that kind of expectation. The first track echoes the band’s more chaotic and aggressive past. However, the rest of the album is a bit more clinical and studied and keeps the aggression at bay most of the time for the sake of something a little more atmospheric, meatier, and melodic. One example comes to mind regarding the abilities of Canvas Solaris: there is a Primus/Les Claypool moment about 32 seconds into “Psychotropic Resonance” (a section that is repeated a couple of times thereafter) that is simply mind-boggling. It sums up the entire Canvas Solaris raison d’etre by way of infusing the past with their own forward-looking reality.

Equal parts progressive, technical, and experimental Canvas Solaris excel at pushing boundaries and creating new musical realms. Canvas Solaris and “Penumbra Diffuse” have raised the modern bar for technical metal. This disc is for fans of Cynic, King Crimson, Spiral Architect, and Gordian Knot.

Canvas Solaris’ “Penumbra Diffuse” is instrumental technical metal I can really sink my teeth into. It is safe to say just over three full months into 2006 that “Penumbra Diffuse”will end up on my Top Twenty list for the year.

“Penumbra Diffuse” was produced by Jamie King and Canvas Solaris.

Canvas Solaris is Nathan Sapp, Ben Simpkins, and Hunter Ginn.

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"Sublimation" (Tribunal; 2004)

Reviewed by Snidermann


There are few words to describe Canvas Solaris's "Sublimation," but I managed to come up with a few: jazz, rock, techno and a few more styles that I simply cannot identify. 

The music on this CD is great, but a bit hard to understand. After a few cuts, I just closed my eyes and let the music take me where it would. Man, what a fucking awesome ride. 

Canvas Solaris is a three man "brutal jazz" outfit, with music based on outer space. A few of the cuts tend to drag on, but they didn't detract from the overall coolness of the recording. In a way, "Sublimation" reminds me a little of a Frank Zappa release, "Jazz From Hell," and it's almost as good. I'm a huge Frank Zappa fan so that's no faint praise. "Canvas Solaris" is an instrumental album so there are no lyrics, just a solid avant-garde musical style that is strange, twisted and just bizarre enough to be fun, with an off-center, space-tripping approach that fits them with innovators in today's progressive metal scene. 

According to the CD cover, Canvas Solaris is: Nathan Sapp - lead and rhythm guitars, guitar synthesizer, 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, micromoog and Yamaha cs-60 synthesizers, speckle interferometry at infared wavelengths of 1.6 and 2.22 micron; Ben Simpkins - rhythm and lead guitars, bass guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, gravitational wave signal of spiraling neutron stars in coincidence with a gamma ray; Hunter Ginn - drums, doumbek, djembe, table drums, congas, shekere, muon wobble, possible door to supersymmetric universe.

Man, that hurt my head just to copy all that from the CD. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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