Thank You Scientist – Maps Of Non-Existent Places
Thank You Scientist – Maps of Non-Existent Places (2012)
Reviewed by Mark Nagy
In conversations with our beloved editor/boss/thing Dan, I’ve used the term “mad scientist prog” to describe that brand of genre-blending madness that I absolutely adore, and he thinks up lame puns to deride. However, I have a certain love for bands who put a value on trying something new, all the while holding onto good songwriting. In a fit of delightful irony, I recently happened upon a band of this distinction named Thank You Scientist. A new progressive rock band from New Jersey whose debut album, Maps Of Non-Existent Places, flew under my radar for almost 2 years before taking my car stereo by storm.
Thank You Scientist could be described as a genre blender. With jazz-influenced progressive metal, the doors are already wide-open to a wide array of styles, but I’m hearing a particularly intentional ska-bend going on with the trumpet inclusion on numerous songs. In addition to your typical 4 piece band, Thank You Scientist adds 3 additional members for violin, saxophone and trumpet. Schizophrenic probably doesn’t even do the chaos of their sound justice, but there’s a couple of things that make a fusion like this work absolutely wonderfully. The effect is infectious, uptempo songs filled with melodies stacked upon themselves,
I’m not a fan of punk or ska music, but it does create an effective framework to conduct more chaotic compositions, and Thank You Scientist has absolutely mastered channeling that chaos into absolutely wonderful songs. In some ways, they remind me a lot of Beardfish, except working with a more modern palette of influences. The familiarity is not necessarily because they are similar, but more just that I appreciate them on similar levels for similar reasons.
There’s not actually a guitar solo on Maps Of Non-Existent Places until nearly halfway in, but the guitar tone is absolutely stunning, and some really top notch shredding shows up in other places throughout. I’d recommend starting with “A Salesman’s Guide To Nonexistence”, “Absentee”, and “My Famed Disappearing Act” to get a good taste of just how awesome of a record you’re in for.
Buy this album if you’re interested in a chaotic and remarkably diverse progressive metal record that’s wrapped tightly with surprisingly catchy, even pop-worthy choruses. It’s a bit of a chore on the ears to process everything going on, and sometimes I struggle with the dissonance between an overtly uptempo musical atmosphere and the darker, contemplative lyrics. At the end of the record, however, it’s all quite worth it. Maps Of Non-Existent Places is absolutely a quintessential progressive rock classic!
4.5 // 5