Guitarist vocalist Robyn Ferguson from the extreme metal band Adorned in Ash makes her solo debut, releasing an instrumental ep highlighted by strong songwriting, heavy riffs, and emotion-filled guitar solos.
Those who appreciate extreme metal should by now know the name Robyn Ferguson as one of the guitarists and vocalist for the South African metal band Adorned in Ash who blend elements of thrash, black, and death metal into their sound. A band whose debut album, The Dead Walk Among Us was well received and a band who has an eagerly awaited follow up release due out soon. In the meantime, Robyn has definitely kept herself busy and frequently posts guitar practice, riffs, and play-throughs on social media, creating a solid presence. Always one to keep busy, and living up to the quote on her website, “Work hard, play hard. Get up and make it happen…”, Robyn has been endorsed by Ibanez and Elixir strings and has composed, performed, and recorded Alizarin.
Whenever I think of instrumental songs or albums by guitarists, the ones I know the most about fall into a couple different styles. There are those by the likes of Joe Satriani and Nita Strauss who have songs that are mostly support for very technical, extended solos filled with a gazillion notes and then in contrast there are instrumentals by the likes of Jeff Beck and Ritchie Blackmore that still have the great solo work, but are more emotion based and there’s definitely a place for both. For those wondering, Alazarin leans more toward the Beck/Blackmore side of composition than the technical showcase. Production is clean and the mix is very good, allowing the drums and bass to play a significant role in the overall sound and bringing in the keyboards completes the overall soundscape nicely. Obviously, the guitar work is the focus here and it blends into the overall sound when needed and shines through brightly during solos.
As a fan of Poe, perhaps having a song called “The Raven” should be no surprise. The opening track starts out with a slow, chugging riff with some great atmospheric keyboard accents and then shifts into a faster more technical riff before slowing things back into a slower, more melodic section where the solo comes in and goes until the song fades out with a somewhat ominous riff. The song itself has sections that are quite catchy and tend to stick in your memory.
“The Oceanborn” takes a bit of a different approach and jumps into melodic solo from nearly the beginning of the track, really showcasing the Robyn’s guitar chops. A good bit of restraint has been brought into the songs as well with respect to the solos as they do carry a strong sense of melody and emotion and are not just technical masterpieces.
“The Time Bender” hearkens back to “The Raven” in terms of style, starting out with some great riffs to draw the listener in, and then once you’re in, guitars fade away for a bit to allow the bass some time in the spotlight and set up that as an introduction for a blazing solo that starts out innocently enough but then screams during a flurry of notes to close out the song.
“The Pack” closes out the album and begins somewhat quietly, with a moody, bass-heavy section similar to the break in “The Time Bender” but from there the song explodes into a solo, followed by a couple thrashier riff sections of the type you typically don’t hear in guitar instrumentals with the second becoming a bit more technical and allowing for some great fills. As one would want, the song closes out with another great solo.
On Alizarin, Robyn Ferguson shows a lot of skill and talent in creating instrumental tracks that showcase her technical abilities but also her ability to craft great instrumental songs that convey a good bit of emotion and bring in elements of metal not often seen in similar albums.
1. The Raven
2. The Oceanborn
3. The Time Bender
4. The Pack
Robyn Ferguson – all instruments
Release Date: April 15th. 2019
Record Label: Independent