Ahmed Ali – Broken Glass Reflection – 3.5/5
It’s all very well for many of us to criticise, but something that is perhaps forgotten is the effort that goes into producing such an album. By one of our very own “Lifer’s,” comes an instrumental album that sits somewhere between Stoner/Doom and Thrash, with slow and crunchy riffs pleasantly interspersed with a thrash guitar attack he goes a long way to overcoming one of main difficulties in producing a solo piece, successfully creating a number of tracks that feel distinct from another.
The drumming is all done using a drum machine, and whilst programmed relatively well to provide more of a ‘completed’ feel, it fails at producing much more than a solid backbeat. It inevitably feels mechanical and lifeless and whilst perhaps this was foreseeable there were times where it felt attention was drawn to it, where instead far more focus should have been devoted to the guitars. With a pounding rhythm, often simplistic they are nonetheless effective and addictive, with enough variation within a track to prevent them from becoming overused, flowing seamlessly between passages. With an unusual stoner crunch they tread a fine line between a deep and dirty tone and retaining a clarity enabling each note to come across. And with no shortage of solos, often providing a delightful southern twang, my only criticism is the occasional over-use of speed, resulting in fast-paced but altogether muddy and repetitive sounding result, the slower and mid-paced sections displaying a variety of tones and emotions far more effectively.
Despite this, something feels sorely missing; there is one effective component here yet the end result still feels somewhat thin. The bass often feels woefully underused (e.g. the almost impossible to hear bass solo in the title track) and could go a long way in ‘filling the gap,’ if worked with the guitars in their own manner to provide a rich, thicker backdrop for the guitars to work in. Another element that seemed rarely used was dual guitar work, one providing short little fills in between slower passages, lending further variety to the proceedings.
There is certainly promise here (most notably in the riffs that were produced) but is in need of some other alternate interest to provide the rich backdrop for the guitars to work. The other small gripes – the well integrated but excessively long sound clip in ‘T-800,’ serves as an example of this – seem relatively minor by comparison, and what perhaps makes this all the more depressing is the occasional demonstrations of just how fleshed out a simple song can sound with just a few effects and additional guitar lines – the closing track and majority of ‘T-800’ shine in this regard. There is potential here, but sadly this isn’t quite there yet.
Highlights: Broken Glass Reflection, T-800, Tremors