Egoist – Ultra-Selfish Revolution

01/09/2009 § Leave a comment

Artist: Egoist
Title: Ultra-Selfish Revolution
Label: SelfMadeGod Records
Genre: Progressive/ Technical Metal

Track Listing:

01 The Rest Will Follow
02 Lifeless Love/Loveless Life
03 On
04 Just Ones
05 These Strange Things
06 Near Warm Fireplace
07 (Not) The End
08 Bright Shift

Stanislaw Wolonciej has had his finger in a number of musical pies since the end of the 1990s, but as much as I love to think myself marginally knowledgeable about progressive metal, Egoist didn’t fall within the scope of my radar. Not only has Stan been doing work with Egoist but also NeWBReeD, Angerpath, Dream System and Spacebrain, and he makes it clear in his rather lengthy and whingey biography that he could have been the drummer for C-187 too, but he didn’t quite make the final cut and Sean Reinhart [again] made it instead. Mind you, considering the dreadful reviews that C-187 got, maybe Stan’s now feeling slightly less peeved that his name didn’t appear in the CD’s linear notes.

Egoist, as its name mockingly hints, ditches the need for other band members and sees Wolonciej taking care of all instrumentation, recording and mastering. Guitars, drums, bass, vocals and synth are all his own work and if you go to his MySpace page you can even see videos of him in his sterile beech-walled studio bouncing time signatures off the walls. Egoist is more than just a progressive metal outfit – Wolonciej throws in a number of influences which make the music straddle a gulf between progressive, technical metal and avant-garde, funk and metalcore. It’s as if someone has thrown a number of genres into a musical mixing bowl and decided to pour them haphazardly into one album. It’s less cohesive than it should be in spite of being played note-perfectly with some beefy and nicely compressed sound production. It’s the kind of thing that would be left at the end of a Korn, Textures and SikTh focus group – bands that do perfectly well in their own rights, but mixing them together is far too dangerous and unstable a compound.

The album’s songs jump and writhe all over the pace, mixing in slow, groove-like sections with spidery riffs, funk and even psychedelic passages. The problem, as is often the way for this sort of stuff, is that it’s hard to put a suitable vocal line to the passages. Wolonciej does have a capable voice but most of the time it’s entirely without emotion so it’s easy to come away from repeated spins of the CD without one memorable line having stood out. In the end, the vocals don’t seem to lead the music as much as the guitars do, which are really the star of the show here, being prominent, up-front and far more interesting. Vocals are also provided by Partick Mameli [Pestilence] in a couple of tracks which adds a different tinge to Egoist’s sound but, once again, it’s nothing particularly memorable.

Egoist does come across as little more than a very personal exercise in experimentation for Wolonciej. Clearly inspired by many of the main, important progressive and death metal bands of the 90s, as well as more modern metalcore bands, Ultra-Selfish Revolution is Wolonciej’s own interpretation and contribution to the style. He’s certainly an impressive musician and Ultra-Selfish Revolution is an ambitious showcase for his many musical talents, but there’s a big hole somewhere in this album, a yawning chasm where no hooks, emotion or soul seem to lie. The canny and consistent danger with technical releases is the sacrifice of meaning for experimentation and individuality, and this is all too often where bands like Egoist seem to fall. However, given Wolonciej’s chosen name for this project, a simple showcasing is all that was ever intended.

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