Chimp Spanner – All Roads Lead Here EP

Chimp Spanner

All Roads Lead Here EP
You may remember when I reviewed Dutch tech-metallers Textures’ new album ‘Dualism a while back, I refused to use a certain ‘word’ aimed to encapsulate their sound. This stance remains today. That doesn’t mean I won’t stop covering such bands, as evidenced by this particular review of the latest EP from Chimp Spanner, the project created entirely by guitarist Paul Ortiz. Ortiz does shy away from that particular label and prefers to describe Chimp Spanner as ‘ambient/progressive metal’. ‘All Roads Lead Here‘ is Chimp Spanner’s second release for Basick Records, following 2010’s ‘At The Dream’s Edge‘.
I’ll be honest, I was a little bit behind the curve when this whole movement gained momentum, not because I closed myself off from it – I’m more than aware of it – but it fell from my focus in the face of other sounds I’ve been covering at the time. The truth however, is that ‘All Roads Lead Here‘ trips up several times over the course of its six tracks, either from being too flashy or too much like a video game at times to seriously enjoy. On top of that, the seemingly repeated use of that chuffing chord really begins to grate after a while. It was fine when Meshuggah and a few other bands were doing it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one sick to the back teeth of hearing it done over and over again.
I’m not going to rip into Ortiz or his work for that particular dislike. There’s times that ‘All Roads Lead Here‘ does come up with enjoyable and nice shredding riffs and occasionally welcoming showmanship. Those times are just too few. The ‘Mobius’ trilogy delivers the best hope of this EP being a success, particular ‘Mobius Part II’, which maintains enough energy and focus not to get mired in weedly-weedly (too much) and chugger notes. I’ve listened to it a few times since and admittedly its a grower. The remainder of the time, it feels lacklustre and when it starts to sound like a cover of a classic Nintendo chiptune (‘Cloud City‘ could easily have been a contender on the Super Smash Bros. soundtrack). That this experience occurs more than one makes it difficult to take ‘All Roads Lead Here‘ seriously at all, and I enjoy video game themed bands.
Ortiz does happen to create music for computer games, advertising and the like, so it’s not really a surprise his work holds some sway over the direction of his musicianship. I don’t doubt he has passion for his cause, and he is one hell of a guitarist, but I personally find Chimp Spanner to feel devoid of any depth of soul, of feeling. Not nearly good enough to be great, but nowhere near bad enough to be a disaster, this particular release gets the dreaded ‘fans of the genre will love this’ accolade, with the only the occasional thrill for the rest, who will probably stick to F-Zero and Metroid if they want a video game soundtrack.
Peter Clegg

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