It was a few weeks ago, in an endless afternoon, warm and boring, that my hunger for new music claimed more than ever, and I decided to swim out to the uncharted dark seas of cyber-ocean, longing for something to whet my appetite. Almost accidentally I found Quadrasonic, by Jarle H Olsen, I smelled its fresh blood from the first note and although the first song was enough to appease my hunger, I still wanted more. A few days after that, the great hunter, lady herself, introduced to me the whole album, and blinded by greed I devoured all tracks, a thousand times to reach exhaustion. Finally I realized: It’s not the white shark which devours the meat of the sea lion, is the sea lion which possess and takes over the shark. Quadrasonic has taken over my mind and filled my soul and ears with mastery.
Jarle H Olsen is a Norwegian guitarist, “maestro” shredder, who started playing the guitar at the age of 12, and today, with consummate skills, his own individual style, clean and fascinating is often being described as a harder version of Yngwie Malmsteen, or a mixture between him and John Petrucci. After playing for several local bands and with many own compositions and ideas, Jarle decided to start his own project (JHOP). His first solo album, Quadrasonic, is a perfect example of a smart balance between virtuosity and raw passion.
I have something to confess… I never had a very open ear for instrumental metal, some years ago I tried to explore some bands and I had no success, unfortunately some bands fall into the mistake of ramming the listener with ridiculously complex melodies, with guitars and the other instruments. This becomes the songs monotonous and unintelligible for a common ear, confusing the listeners and causing them to lose interest and “hear” without “listen”. Jarle and company have managed to undo this prejudice and they have brought us songs with a constant and enveloping atmosphere, a guitar sharpened as a sword, which shines and is the center of attention, but does not exclude the rest of the army of the battle. The first track, “Exordium”, immediately immobilizes the muscles of the face and, like that memorable scene from A Clockwork Orange, a disturbing atmosphere opens your eyes with metal hooks, making you listen and feel in every atom of your body the announcement of the earthquake that’s coming. Pro-10 starts without warning, Jarle not mince his words, and delivers from the first second with power, tone, and a technical lead guitar that seems to speak with every note. In “Dark Matters”, we found a smoother running, solid progressive / modern metal base, dark riff on throughout the song, drawing dynamic lectures; many things happen and move in every corner of the song, chaos in perfect sync. “Enigmatic Mind” starts with an intro ala Symphony X (or ala Dream Theater, depends on what angle you see it), and Jarle’s clean style flows naturally and deliciously. Jarle is truly a virtuoso, but is much more than that, he is a virtuoso that involves his heart and soul into his compositions and his playing. Proof of this is “From Deep Within”, a sort of melancholic song on his guitar weeps and speaks in an unknown and beautiful language.
With tracks like “Event Horizon” and “Chimerical Moments” you just cannot stay indifferent to the magnificence of the structures, Jarle’s explosive technique, the insane and powerful sweep picking arpeggios and harmonies along the songs and the atmosphere created by the essential grandeur and majestic keyboards execution by Alex Argento. All this facts keep the listener’s attention alive and grip the hearts strongly. Finally, Jarle gives three songs, “Osiris – The Omnipotence”, “Reawakening” and “Journey to Duat”. The three tracks are, at least for me, masterpieces of modern and experimental art in its most pure and high shape, there is just no need of lyrics or vocals, a real treat for the gods, the perfectly balanced mechanism between speed and melody.
Summarizing, Jarle H Olsen has given new impetus to what instrumental prog metal means, with an impressive and eclectic set of influences, reminding the exquisite technique and tasty style of Kiko Loureiro. Jarle has enriched and modernized the genre and is fairly considered one of the great ones, Being his first album, Quadrasonic shows fresh new blood, beautiful and exciting creations, it keeps a line through the whole album, but there are always unexpected stuffs, and you can get hear it thousands of times, always finding hidden new parts and enjoying every second. An instrumental album without boring or eternal corridors, where there’s no need of lyrics or a voice to understand the stories, because the guitar screams poems in its own universal language. An album for guitarists and all fans of Malmsteen, Petrucci and Friedman, perfect for the fans of my all time favorite Jason Becker. And for the fans that without much knowledge of musical technique, claim for a shredder with melodic power and soul, able to blow their minds.
5 words: Speed, rhythm, passion, virtuosity and epicness.