Schizofrantik -
Ripping Heartaches

(CD 2017, 53:23, Gentle Art Of Music GAOM051)

The tracks:
  1- Satan And Death Separated By Sin(12:52)
  2- A New Day(3:46)
  3- Personal Hell(5:38)
  4- Hungry Ghosts(7:24)
  5- Why Is My Mind?(7:51)
  6- Children Stopped Crying In Aleppo(4:02)
  7- Infinity(11:50)

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Ripping Heartaches is the third album release since Schizofrantik signed to the GAOM label. When you are familiar with the music of mastermind Martin Mayrhofer, it's fair to say this album feels like a continuation of the previous albums; Oddities (2011, see review) and Knight On The Shark (2013, see review). Only on this album, the boundaries of experimental progressive metal are explored even more. Musically Mayrhofer has a history as a member of the German death jazz metallers Panzerballett, something which still shines through in his inventive song writing. Both bands show a common interest in music which results in a recognizable guitar sound, applying to both bands.
On Ripping Heartaches, Mayrhofer is responsible for guitar and bass, as well as all vocals. Help comes with returning drummer Andy Lund and newcomer Christian Schichtl, also keyboard player Henning Lübben. During live concerts, bass player Marco Osmajic performs alongside Mayrhofer, Schichtl and Lübben.

Ripping Heartaches turns out to be a very interesting, but more adventurous album, opener Satan And Death Separated By Sin combines the afore mentioned death jazz elements with Meshuggah's djenty heavy rhythms and dedicated guitar playing. During the instrumental parts, references of Mörlbl and Mattias Eklundh pass by, resulting in a nice stretched composition that guaranties over twelve minutes of incredible and challenging music. Contrasting to the previous song the vocal track A New Day shows an other side of Schizofrantik; this is a “normal” song, focussing on Martin's very accessible vocals. This track could be a nice introduction to the band's music, if you didn't know better. Personal Hell is one of my personal favourites on the album, a solid instrumental, where the band perfectly find their balance between great craftsmanship and heavy, but still very melodic guitar lines. Distorted vocals appear in Hungry Ghosts and fuse Meshuggah style guitars with great melodies into a memorisable tune. Delicate piano parts are the perfect diverging element to the heaviness. The end part has a nice technical touch, which reminds me a bit of Virgil Donati's In This Life album. Why Is My Mind is another more accessible track with smooth funky elements, highlighting strong drum parts and nice vocals. Children Stopped Crying In Aleppo has an intense tittle, musically the music box section gives me the shivers and the acoustic guitar works as the perfect contrast. Only the end, how great the intentions are, does remind me of Steve Vai's collaboration with Devin Townsend on The Road To Mt. Calvary. Not that strong however. Talking about Vai, I think the final chapter on the album; Infinity has some vaiish hints. This quite smooth track shows great playing, acoustically as well as electric and created a strange kind of balance in the album, which does feel quite naturally.

Martin Mayrhofer has brought that special balance in an album that is rare, Mayerhofer totally masters the way to combine heavy djenty guitars with delicate subtle played acoustic parts in a way they really fit together. Absolutely well done I would say!

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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