Necessity is not the only mother of invention. Sometimes, curiosity is. The desire to do something different can also serve as that muse. After all, how many times have bands or individual artists worked within the same strict framework and tried with varying degrees of success or failure to push boundaries? So along comes an individual who truly thought outside of the box. Rick Richards, a.k.a. Simltar, has taken progressive/avant garde metal in a new direction using only sampled and sequenced instruments. What sounds like guitars are, well, guitars, but merely samples that have been recorded and programmed rather than played traditionally by hand.

The songs on Mortis Metallum are inhuman, in the sense that no drummer or guitarist save for the most elite, could hope to actually replicate what Richards has done with drum machine and keyboard. As a one-man project he occasionally performs live, which makes him a performer that is closer to Deadmau5 and Skrillex than it does to mathy djent bands like Animals as Leaders or Periphery.

Devoid of vocals, the songs here lend themselves to the feel of some odd side-scrolling video game soundtrack. There is mild industrial feel to this simply by the mechanical nature of the music. It's cold and flat, emotionless and complex, and the trance elements come through in many of the sounds that are sampled.

Yet, as innovative and intriguing as this is, the novelty of it wears off a few songs in and the music melds into the background. There's simply no human element to carry it along. One song turns into another and the listener won't know the difference. It's a shame in a way, because the brilliance of this gets lost on all but the most determined listener.

Still, I have to say that Progtronic is one of the most inventive projects I've heard in a very long time. Give it a shot if you like a lot of modern prog metal or djent, but otherwise, I wouldn't recommend this for casual ears. Even I struggled to pay attention after five songs and I dork out over mathy stuff like this. There are occasional hooks and breaks that are a little more simple than others but they're few and far between.