For Fans Of
Outside of the deathcore and progressive metal community, very few people may be aware of Jason Richardson. The guitar prodigy cut his teeth in All Shall Perish at the mere age of 17, before moving onto Born Of Osiris to release their kick ass record ‘The Discovery‘, easily their best work. After an acrimonious departure and a short stint in Chelsea Grin, he left to pursue a solo career, which is where we find him now.
When I got news of this, I must admit I got a little excited. Richardson is a truly gifted musician and as a fellow guitarist myself, I get a big kick out of wrapping my ears around some good riff and solo sections. As his debut album, ‘I‘, has just been released I was interested to see just how good is it…
Truly, it’s not lacking in the musical talent department. Let me just list off a few names that appear here for you: Jeff Loomis, Nick Graham, Spencer Sotelo, Lukas Maygar, Nick Johnson AND Jacky Vincent. Holy. Shit! That is some serious talent to be contained in just one record. The Word Alive’s drummer Luke Holland provides the beasts across the entire album and the drum sound truly is a credit to his signature playing, as well as Taylor Larson’s production and mixing. It’s great to hear Holland really let loose in terms of his grooves and fills and show people just how bloody good he is, something he can’t necessarily do in TWA. Of course, Richardson himself is absolutely the star of the show, and some of the instrumental passages on various songs here are among the most insane parts he has ever recorded.
Take the midsection in ‘Titan‘, for instance, where the guitar is isolated. It almost sounds like a… slot machine. But a slot machine with a really bad coke habit. And it’s double-tracked as well. It’s crazily good. Also, that jazz break in ‘Hos Down‘ is one of my favourite moments of the record and it breaks a sense of monotony that creeps in by the halfway point.
The two tracks featuring singers here is ‘Fragments‘ with Lukas Maygar of Veil Of Maya, and ‘Retrograde‘ (not to be confused with the new Crown The Empire release) which features Spencer Sotelo of Periphery. They are by far the strongest songs on offer. Of the two, I definitely prefer ‘Fragments‘. It seems to flow better and the guest spot performed by Mark Holcomb was also a really nice touch too. Beyond this, I feel like this is an album that will really resonate with musicians and die-hard fans of progressive music more than anyone else.
Richardson has also composed a lot of the synthesised elements for the record and they give the songs that familiar “Sumerian Records touch” (again, this is in part a credit to Larson). The guitarist was also originally a piano player, so it’s easy to understand his knack for writing other instruments that aren’t guitar focused.
But while it’s painfully clear to see Mr Richardson is a fantastic musician, he seemingly relies on a lot of similar techniques in his playing. Sure, it’s his style, his schtick if you will, but I feel that something more will be needed in the future to really will surprise fans. Perhaps he’s saving the big curveballs for an upcoming release and this one is simply to make people take notice of his musical prowess?
Who knows what he’s got cooking next, but for now I am very happy to be subjected to beautiful sweep picking and truly ridiculous alternate picked sections, which is not a huge loss!
In my mind, this is an album for Richardson’s existing fanbase that should also help bring in new listeners, such as John Petrucci of Dream Theater, who recently praised his work. It heavily relies on the “djent” side of metal, and no doubt has that all too familiar Sumerian production style (for better or for worse). But I personally would love to see him break some new ground on his next release, whenever that may come. I also strongly suggest that you check out the documentary released to accompany this album, as it adds even further depth to your enjoyment of ‘I’.
3 Retrograde (feat. Spencer Sotelo)
4 Hos Down (feat. Rick Graham)
5 Mirrors (feat. Nick Johnson)
7 Thot 2.0
8 Fragments (feat. Lukas Magyar & Marc Holcomb)
9 Breaking Damnation (feat. Jacky Vincent)
11 Chapter II (feat. Jeff Loomis)
‘I’ is available now. Bow down to Richardson’s musical talent here.