Out now on Rock It Up Records
Toby Knapp has been featured at Virtuosity One before for his album “The Campaign” which was home to good guitar work but poor vocals and production. Well we have another release for our appraisal in “Misanthropy Divine” and for the most part it’s a better offering.
Granted we still have production issues with poor sounding drum samples (although the patterns and arrangements by Knapp are quite cool); whilst vocalist on four tracks Deen Sternberg is nothing more than competent. Apparently Knapp has a problem finding musicians in his local area to work with – might we suggest using the wonder that is internet to get some suitable musicians involved from outside his local base?
Luckily once again Knapp impresses with his six string prowess that’s runs the gamut of rock and metal styles – the guy can play and you wonder why he isn’t better known but then when you hear the very average production etc you know why. No matter how good material may be nothing scares off a potential fan base quicker in this day and age than a shoddy mix and production. I don’t want to bash Toby but his quality level needs to be higher in terms of production, this sounds nothing better than rough demo quality for the most part which is a shame as the music is mostly good and deserves a much better presentation than what it gets.
On the whole “Misanthropy Divine” is a much better offering than “The Campaign” and despite its obvious sonic flaws has some great instrumentals such as “The Forlorn”, “Dreaming The Microplex” and the title track. The vocal tracks as mentioned before do not fare so well but mostly because of the vocals themselves but could be good with the right vocalist etc…
Overall the best release I have heard yet from Knapp but still in need of much better quality control.
Rating – 65%
Out Now – Shredguy Records
Toby Knapp is another contender to make a name for himself in the guitar virtuoso stakes. Freshly signed to Shredguy Records Toby is joined by other relative unknowns in vocalist Attila Csihar, Jeff Gruslin, Tom Cline and Dean Sternberg to sing on various tracks on this 9 track mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks. Home to a neo-classical meets early thrash and straight metal sound the album has a very rudimentary production where the programmed drums cheapens the end product somewhat. As a result some of the impact is lost with the dullish backing tracks. That said Toby’s guitar work is strong.
The instrumentals fare best on the album with opener ‘The Campaign’ setting things off nicely whilst ‘Towards Power Unimagined’ is first rate in anyones book. ‘Telekninesis’ is home to the aforementioned early thrash feel with some of flair of the likes of Exoudus shown. That said ‘Plutonium Race’ I suspect is from a different recording period as the sound quality is worse than the other very average sounding tracks. Sadly the momentum of the instrumentals is lost with the vocal tracks. ‘Conspire’ just sounds dated largely thanks to the weak vocal melodies and strained vocals of Dean Sternberg, a shame as there is potential in the music. ‘We Are Legions’ with its cookie monster vocals of Jeff Gruslin does however awaken the Carcass and Morbid Angel fan in me and is a nice slice of brutal metal. This is contrasted by the overly quasi musically accomplished post grunge of ‘Wicked’ with its Stone Temple Pilots feel! Dodgy vocals again come into play on ‘Reanimation’ thanks to the delightfully named Atilla Csihar and make the track almost unlistenable whilst we are ‘treated’ to Dean Sternberg’s vocals again on closer ‘Lack Of Inspiration’.
Despite the obvious skill Knapp has on the guitar, it’s a shame this quality control isn’t followed up in other areas i.e. production, mix, choice of vocalist etc. So despite my best intentions to focus on the positives the limitations of the weak areas are just too overpowering in places to ignore and a result the album comes out with a very average score. Hopefully Knapp can address the issues mentioned here next time as he has the 6 string goods to deliver going by his guitar work and musical compositions here.
Rating – 60%