Reviewed: February 2019
Released: 2019, Moribund Rockers
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
No good reviewer wants to judge things by their cover. But such things do make an impression, and both the cover and other promo images with this one immediately filled me with a mild dread. It has all the hallmarks of the typical one-man shred project.
As it stands, when I actually sat down and listened to Blizzard Archer…it confirmed some of my concerns. Some, but not all.
In terms of general sound and approach, this is exactly what you’d expect really. It’s a one-man project focused primarily on Mr. Knapp’s capabilities with his guitar, though he also plays all other instruments. It’s technical, flashy, at times proggy or neo-classical. It’s entirely instrumental, which is actually something of a relief, as I often find the singing to be the weakest aspect on these sort of offerings.
The thing is, as talented as Toby Knapp clearly is, very few guitar maestros are also good enough at song-writing to justify a series of one-man albums. Blizzard Archer certainly isn’t the worst such example I’ve ever heard, in fact, there’s very little that’s flat-out bad on here (though the drums do sound painfully programmed and hollow). But there’s also very little that amounts to real, tangible substance. Sure, the guitar playing is impressive, but to what end? What is it contributing to? There’s no real structure or atmosphere to speak of, it’s just half an hour of shredding. Even calling the tracks “songs” feels unusual given how little of a real identity they each have.
Again, despite my complaints, this isn’t actually a particularly bad example of this style, and I’ve heard worse. But the fact still remains that raw talent and skill at shredding will only go so far, and at some point it needs to be backed up with good songs. Toby Knapp needs a band around him to properly shine.
1.) All Hands Planted
2.) Midnight in Guyana
3.) 13 Astral Gateways
4.) Cold Warrior
5.) The Eye of Providence
6.) Bear 141
7.) Blizzard Archer
8.) To the Pavilion
Toby Knapp – All