Portland, Oregon native and Progressive Metal guitar wiz Dustin Behm is doing his part to help keep his home city weird on his debut solo album The Beyond. Featuring a baker’s dozen of layered Prog Metal instrumental tracks, with Behm handling not only the programming but playing guitar, EBow, bass and keyboards, The Beyond aims to take listeners somewhere interstellar and/or otherworldly. Behm’s love of horror and science fiction is evident in song titles like “Interdimensional Traveler” and “Haunted Labyrinth”, and also in the frenetic, alien shredscapes he creates. His rapid, icy riffs and spectral tone evokes the airless void of space on tunes like “The Beyond”; layers of guitar conjure mischievous spirits on “Poltergeist”, one of the standout tracks of the album. Metal guitar instrumental albums always run the risk of excessive noodling, but Behm finds a nice balance between the repetition and the trilling runs up and down the frets. Even better, when he does take off for the stratosphere, he does so in most cases with the intent of underscoring the central mood of the song rather than to just show off his considerable chops. On “Genesis” there’s a nice section where the pound of the programmed drums fades away and there’s some space in the music where Behm throws off a tasteful run; it manages to capture the sense of new creation just as the song title implies. Although the guitar tones are different, there’s moments here where Behm’s angular, precise songcraft intersects the orbit of planet Voivod, perhaps most evidently on “Obelisk”. Repeated listening reveals the variety within what is a very singular Progressive vision.
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