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Christopher - Smoke and Origination Review

by Daniel Walker

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Christopher is a progressive rock/metal solo artist who started making music in 2001. He auditioned for many Finnish metal bands and didn't make the cut, so he figured he'd make lemonade out of lemons and that he would have more creative freedom by himself anyway.

Smoke and Origination is his second effort and the first comparison one most likely will draw is to Vast. It shares the brooding exoticism, but is arguably more epic, diverse, and heavier. You can hear gothic and industrial rock, metal, ambient, electronica, and doom metal in this creation, and the DVD case it arrives in amplifies its apparent ambition. When I first received this, I thought it was a DVD. When I found out that it wasn't, I thought "What a pompous, bloated way to represent an album!". I soon got over it.

Christopher is a classically-trained guitarist who sings about urban development and its effects on the human psyche. The entire album is in one key and adds to the dark aspects portrayed throughout. Aside from being dark, it is also ethnically progressive in the sense that it's sophisticatedly structured and has generous amounts of Middle Eastern and African flair. Some of the tribal drumming, especially, is brilliant. The fact that these foreign influences permeate the disc has no conceptual grounding save for their innate musical powers.

Another interesting thing about this album is what Christopher's Myspace bio says about his vocals: that they are gender-bending. This is disputable, though - they are no more gender-bending than, say, Daniel Gildenlow's work. He hits some very mellow highs for a male in this type of 'gothic' music, but he pulls it off very well. The bending he does is more of a technical aspect of not sticking to familiar vocal patterns.

The song titles here reek of blatant intellectualism that's almost laughable in such tracks as "The Spaghetti Terrorist". Anyone remember that one Guns N' Roses album named The Spaghetti Incident? Still, to have this much depth of thought and feeling put in the music only warrants song titles that acquiesce. No lyrics come with this release, but you can find more artwork and lyrics on Christopher's website.

For a reject of several Finnish metal bands, Christopher has done well for himself by focusing his quiet determination into a starkly beautiful and captivating record.

Tracklisting:
1. The Summoning Vector (1:26)
2. This Is Your Plague (6:44)
3. Sunday Is Falling Apart (4:12)
4. The Following Visual Was Staged (3:42)
5. SPAGHETTI TERRORIST (10:57)
I. Arms Without A Tyrant
II. Lasafey
III. The Lunatic Has An Understudy
IV. Fly Free, Cancer Angel
6. Sharp Knives (10:00)
7. Frailty Scan (5:54)
8. Purpose? (0:54)
9. An Addendum (6:45)
10. The Wraith's Progress (8:41)
I. the ascension, the geometry, the horror
II. EMF 2 Step - Film Noir Crawl
III. the oppressive sphere - amputee in a circular room
11. The Derivative Hearts (5:14)
12. Again (4:07)


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Christopher - Smoke and Origination
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