The lead guitarist of Vancouver's Assimilation forges out with a solo album infusing '80s thrash themes into modern guitar acrobatics.

Released Christmas Day, Matt Chanway's eponymous solo album is a showcase for his virtuosic guitar playing and intricate song crafting. The six song album is decidedly modern, never resting on its laurels however from time to time, echoes from those pioneers of thrash metal will sear through, keeping the album packed with adrenaline. Produced with the help of drum programmer Jacob Craner and bassist/engineer Stuart Hidalgo, this album will leave you wondering why you ever needed the barking and screeching of a vocalist in the first place.

Following the first few songs of ratcheting stop-start polyrhythms, 'Harbinger 2.1' gives metalheads something a little more straight-forward to bang their heads to with some good old 4/4 thrash metal. Horsemen riding across a sky on fire. Rad.

'Eyes in the Sky', the penultimate track is a definite standout on the album. After establishing a sludgy intro, Chanway breaks off into soaring leads that glide over the seething rhythm section swooping down periodically to sync up. For the finale, he erupts into an explosion of unison guitars that cascade like a firework waterfall at the end of a display. The band sits back on a groove to let you soak in the magnitude. Like many points of brilliance on the album, it's over too soon.

Chanway has the churning breakdowns and sweeping solos down to a science and enough riffing somersaults to keep the upper echelon of prog nerds counting out signatures to their heart's content. The only thing keeping this from being a truly great album is a lack of those of recurring themes that cement these tracks in your psyche. Chanway does hit a few signature lines but doesn't refer back to them enough to brand the song with them. He just keeps moving forward, which I suppose is only the natural compulsion for the prog player. Forever restless.

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