(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by Conquering Dystopia, the instrumental supergroup that features Jeff Loomis, Keith Merrow, Alex Webster, and Alex Rüdinger.)
The instrumental metal conversation has perpetually carried a narrative that it’s inevitably dying, always about to reach its life expectancy, with no room soon to be left for it because no one wants to hear a bunch of musicians directly line-in to a PC and show off. It’s amazing to me that in a genre that is partially, in some of its sub-cultures, built around technical proficiency, and sometimes excess, that such things are said. Although to be fair, there is good reason for that narrative as of late, and it boils down to djent. Djent, especially bedroom djent, nearly killed the instrumental metal market for any widespread appeal. You hear so many Axe-FX rich kids trying to compose generic, boring, ambient soundscapes with chugs — can you blame those who now shy away from instrumental metal?
The thing is, the idea that instrumental metal is an unwanted musical movement not worth exploring is just false. We’re now seeing some of the best composers, both bands and solo individuals, putting out some of the most stunning material in years: Mendel, Angel Vivaldi, Exivious, Blotted Science with their comeback a couple years ago, and most relevant for this review, Jeff Loomis with his post-Nevermore output and Keith Merrow. Not only do these guys all write stellar music, I see educated fans slobbering over this kind of music a lot. The problem is, we’ve been bombarded by so many bedroom djenters that the good music sometimes seems to be drowned out.