Anyone listening to the metal bands Zero Hour, Abnormal Thought Patterns, Cynthesis and A Dying Planet is aware that Jasun Tipton is a highly gifted guitarist. Each of these bands offers a different variation of highly technical progressive metal. Zero Hour is the most complex of the group, while A Dying Planet is the most atmospheric. At the heart of each band is the fretboard pyrotechnics of Jasun Tipton.
Over the course of his career there has been a slow, but steady, evolution of Tipton’s guitar playing. Mood, atmosphere, complexity and dynamics have always been a strength in the guitar riffs and lead licks of Tipton. Exceptional songwriting as well as phenomenal technique have allowed Tipton to shine brightly on the guitar. Whether playing ultra heavy, highly technical riffs or clean, shimmering chords, Tipton excels at his craft. What Jasun has been working towards these last few years is soulful restraint. Not an easy thing to learn and even harder to put into practice. Just because a guitarist is able to effortlessly play at the speed of light does not mean that they always have to. Burning up the fretboard at 100 mph is not always the best approach for a song.
That brings me to the third solo album from Jasun Tipton entitled The Dream To Fly. The entire album is an exercise in restraint. Jasun Tipton has always been a tasteful guitarist. Even amidst the most technical licks and riffs of the music of Zero Hour he always plays for the song. There are a lot of notes, but not one is wasted. There are no moments of needless noodling. The Dream To Fly sees Jasun Tipton dial down the distortion and drastically reduce the tempos. Over the course of the album he artfully holds back. Beautifully strummed chords are allowed to ring out. With each guitar solo he allows each note to sing. There are a few moments where it seems that he is about to launch into a full shred solo. But the shred never comes as he reels it back and continues to play for the song. Each note is important, each chord is vital, each strum has meaning. Tipton made a name for himself playing progressive metal. Listening to The Dream To Fly will give fans a new appreciation the guitar skills of Jasun Tipton. Hearing the clean tones, beautifully strummed chords and slow, soulful leads presents his playing in a new light.
The Dream To Fly consists of eight songs that showcase another side of Jasun Tipton’s exceptional guitar playing skills. Cleanly played, atmospheric guitar rhythms are accentuated by slow and tasteful guitar leads. Subtle keyboards add to the hypnotic, almost dreamlike, mood and feel of the album. At times the keyboards bring in hints of progressive rock. The bulk of the album consists of slow-paced, instrumental rock songs. Slow-paced does not mean boring. Far from it, this set of songs will grab a hold and take the listener on a meditative musical journey. The album ends with two vocal tracks. Musically the songs are in the same vein as the prior instrumentals. Zero Hour fans will be in for a treat as the songs feature former Zero Hour vocalist Chris Salinas. Hearing Salinas make new music with Tipton is an extremely pleasant surprise. His appearance on the album does not disappoint. I do have to give credit to the other fine musicians on the album: Brian Hart on bass, Jeremy Villucci on keyboards and Marco Bicca on drums. Their exceptional contributions help to make the music of The Dream To Fly truly soar.
I have been a fan of Jasun Tipton since 2001 when I was absolutely blown away by Zero Hour’s second album The Towers Of Avarice. This monumental concept album quickly became one of my favorite metal albums. I have been following Jasun Tipton every since. I was extremely fortunate to see Zero Hour live in 2006. The entire band was phenomenal. Having witnessed him live I can attest to the brilliance of the guitar playing of Tipton. He has fantastic tone, flawless technique, monster chops and incredible feel. Watching his journey from Zero Hour to Death Machine to Cynthesis to Abnormal Thought Patterns to A Dying Planet and back to Zero Hour has been quite an enjoyable ride. His latest release, A Dream To Fly, is another step in his ever evolving musical journey. This incredible album is just the tip of the iceberg for Jasun Tipton in 2021. New albums by A Dying Planet and Zero Hour are slated for release later in the year. What an incredible year for fans of this highly talented and multifaceted musician.