Amogh Symphony - The Quantum Hack Code
Record Label: Platinum Selling Artist Records
Release Date: December 25, 2010 (original) January 25, 2011 (CD)
Artists who wish to create concept albums find themselves presented with a particularly unique challenge, one that is exclusive to them despite how similar they are to their movie soundtrack counterparts. Because they lack images to pair with the music, a concept album of the storytelling type must entirely rely on sonic aspects to stimulate the imagination of the listener so that the full plot can be finessed around a basic framework provided by lyrics or narration. But this is only half of the equation. At the same time, we must consider the concept album as if it was any other album that was written purely in terms of euphony. After all, the only thing keeping us from clicking the X or fast forward buttons is the fact that the euphony exists. Bridging these two distinct and desirable traits is not an easy task, as they often clash and compete with each other for a higher level of priority between artist and fan. Things are stacked even higher when the artist in question is linked to a fad genre which many bands are trying to jump on. Amogh Symphony faces all of these problems, but it is in the problems that the strong are set apart from the weak.
The Quantum Hack Code proves itself to be one intimidating juggernaut of a concept album. It pairs story and soundscape flawlessly, in a way that forces the listener to use their imagination. Without going into too much detail story-wise, the general plot centers around a battle in cyberspace between competing virus programs derived from human DNA, representing good and evil. The spoil of this battle is what is called the Q-Web, a giant mainframe which preserves the consciousness and bodies of the last humans on a dying Earth. Most tracks are prefaced with a brief narration which explains the overall plot of the coming chapter as the track continues. However, this narration strictly encompasses nothing more than the bare skeleton of the plot, allowing the music to conjure more specific visuals about what exactly is happening. This can be difficult thanks to the extreme amounts of technicality which will be discussed later, but when you give the music enough time to sink in you will begin to appreciate its coordinated arrangement with the plot.
When examined at a less intellectual, more euphonic level, The Quantum Hack Code continues to be just as strong. In fact, I would place it as this year's best technically-oriented album. With equal parts metal, jazz, idm, trance, acoustic, and post-rock, Amogh Symphony tastefully forms an incredible combination of ether, richness, volume, and density. Such a complex product is difficult to ascertain on a descriptive level, and as such is best experienced firsthand. The idm and metal influences consistently keep the tempo up during the more suspenseful sections of the album, backed by gloomy, ominous tones. All of the glitchiness and mathematically oriented guitar work helps to solidify the cybernetic theme of the album. At the same time, we are presented with some strangely and beautifully sophisticated jazz and acoustic sections that break up the more exciting parts, something that strikes me as a reminder that the album's story is indeed one of a battle for humanity. The only real flaw in this album is a disappointing lack of flow between the opposing jazz/acoustic and idm/metal sections; whose transitions are quite shoddy and could have used more mutually inclusive integration with one another in order to preserve the typically free motion of the instrumentation. A small stumbling block, if you ask me.
The Quantum Hack Code is indeed a masterpiece, penning a novel with notes instead of words. This album pushed my attention span to its limit while trying to simultaneously absorb both the arts of musical appreciation and storytelling, as it helixes them around each other into a fascinatingly complex and colossal duality. Considering how human DNA is such a major part of the album's story, it is an extremely fitting embodiment. All told, it seems that the true significance of this album is as a tribute to the power of the human mind and spirit, giving birth to such complex art and technology.