Japaeti - 'Abacus'

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Japaeti - 'Abacus'

An often uncomfortably compelling, yet never less than superb, and most certainly bonkers metal album.

Like Devin Townsend at his most deranged and proggy, Japaeti can make you scratch your head in bewilderment and shake it in awe in equal measure.

The Californian trio have created a truly heavy progressive metal album full of guitar excellence and wildly shifting sounds. The time signatures change more times than a fussy actress, and with drumming so incredibly to-the-tea you could be forgiven for thinking drum machines are used. The incredibly rich guitar sounds on debut 'Abacus' are so beautifully constructed it would make lesser players weep.

Opener 'Milestone' is a jaw-dropping slice of tricky guitars and blasting drums. The twisting flurry of white hot notes continues through 'Beyond Their Capabilities', but just when you think they're going to descend into full on self back-patting guitar widdling an imaginary switch is flicked and suddenly heavy metal hell is unleashed.

Dream Theater's John Petrucci and the dissonance of Tool are clearly key influences thanks to a love of uncontainable structures. Yet combining the harshness of Nine Inch Nails has created an often uncomfortably compelling, yet never less than superb, and most certainly bonkers metal album.

'Abacus' is largely instrumental as any vocals don't appear properly until track five. 'A Voice Unspoken' is unquestionably better with them included; Johnny Bisaha's powerfully emotive voice bringing life, but you have to wonder if this could have been introduced earlier.

Since album production ceased, bass player Chris Cunningham has been added to the band in a positive look to the future. Guessing where each song will go is impossible but like the band's next step it is exciting to find out.

They could so easily fly under the progressive metal radar, but with an album like 'Abacus', Japaeti will hopefully count themselves amongst the best.

Dan Bond

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