Snake Stomper Studio, Big Horn, Wy. The wall of various Marshalls.

Snake Stomper Studio, Big Horn, Wy. The wall of various Marshalls.

Where underground metal is created....

Where underground metal is created....

The TK music library

The TK music library

First TK ad! Shrapnel Records full page in Guitar World 1993.

First TK ad! Shrapnel Records full page in Guitar World 1993.

Century Media Germany ad for Onward's "Evermoving" 2001.

Century Media Germany ad for Onward's "Evermoving" 2001.

TOBY'S BLOG

Third Eye Cinema reviews "Blizzard Archer" 

Toby Knapp – Blizzard Archer (Moribund Rockers!) (February 8) 

Waxen’s Toby Knapp puts on his Yngwie and drops the equivalent of a Shrapnel shred record, all instrumental guitar and band work. 

The vibe is very much akin to Yngwie meets Chastain with a bit of Project M.A.R.S. thrown in for good measure. Moments come off practically Iron Maidenesque (“all hands planted”) in their dual guitar harmonies, and the entire affair is both firmly planted in traditional melodic/power metal roots and filled with shredding. 

The important thing to take away here is that while Knapp is working a more aggressive, grounded take on the Yngwie school of playing, the album never suffers from what shredheads are well familiar with – the awkward song structures for the sake of incorporating some untoward, ill fitting experimental phrase or lick, the sense of boredom that creeps in over the course of a given album sans vocals. 

A few managed to escape this (Vinnie Moore on Time Odyssey, perhaps Jason Becker on Perpetual Burn or even Joey Tafolla on Out of the Sun), but most of the ones we remember and revisit on a regular basis were full band setups: Racer X, Steeler and Alcatrazz, Phantom Blue, Project M.A.R.S., Eat ‘Em and Smile era David Lee Roth…and Yngwie’s first three solo albums, the better part of which were full band with vocals. 

The solo instrumental albums? Some amazing players, occasional killer tracks…but they tend to gather dust (seriously…when’s the last time you ran to give Joe Satriani or Steve Vai a spin? It’s been multiples of decades for yours truly…) 

But Knapp grounds himself in the right influences, putting his best foot forward by emphasizing melody, song structure and enough modulation, discrete phrasing and implied key change to retain listener attention…and then tagging on the flash leads, rather than building some half-assed tinkertoy structure to support whatever new lead trick he cares to throw down at the moment. Selah. 

The only tragedy is that it’s taken this long to dig through the backlog sufficient to finally get to covering this album…because like Tafolla or Becker,* Knapp actually bothered to craft an album full of hummable ditties amidst all the driving metal aggression, well polished productionwise and covered with some nice leads to boot. 

* sorry, not Moore. Time Odyssey remains something of the inspirational pinnacle for these ears, little comes close. 

If you’re into good playing, Malmsteen, Shrapnel or any of the bands and players aforementioned (and a few not, like Marty Friedman), you’d be a goddamned fool to pass this one up, no bones about it. 

Throw me a pick, willya? Killer stuff, it’s actually inspirational if you’re a player with even a modicum of taste. 

REVIEW TAKEN FROM THIRD EYE CINEMA/ MARCH 2019

Journal from Last FM radio 

"Polarizing Lines is a fast and heavy instrumental metal album by guitarist Toby Knapp (Godless Rising, Waxen, Onward (the metal band) and tour guitarist for Darkane on their 2009 Canadian tour). Knapp made a name for himself fusing progressive metal time signatures with death and black metal influenced instrumentals as early as 1993, playing with a style described by one popular Canadian magazine "Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles" as "A guitar wizard who sounds like a crackhead fistfight between Yngwie Malmsteen and Randy Rhodes". Knapp has gained a (small) following and many positive critical reviews since then, but has found himself moving from band to band and label to label without a very solid regularity or distribution to his releases. Perhaps a limiting factor to the growth of Knapp's fanbase is the chasm of difference between traditional metal, death metal and instrumental music that limits the number of fans to whom the entirety of Knapp's projects will appeal to." LAST FM

Journal excerpt on Toby Knapp from Last FM

Renowned Composer/keyboardist Jimmy Pitts talks "Waxen" 

Every once in awhile, a musician with a vast knowledge and a superior grasp of music theory comes along and makes sense of what others might call noise. Virtuoso composer/keyboardist Jimmy Pitts is one of those guys. Jimmy has performed a diverse array of music ranging from the frenetic metal and technicality of Scholomance, Spastic Ink. and The Fractured Dimension to Jazz, Classical, Rock, World music, & the avant garde. He bought the new Waxen album and I am honored and humbled by his words, check out his great review and check out his music if you haven't! 

"I received the new Waxen album from Toby Knapp - a man I have long lauded as the hardest working and most productive musician I know. Toby is a legend in the metal and guitar scenes, which is a reputation he has earned by moving effortlessly and authentically through power metal, Neo-Classical, and, as is the case here, raw and honest Black Metal. What strikes me from the very first chords is the visceral tone and recording quality, akin to classic Darkthrone or Burzum, while retaining its own atmosphere, and next I am ripped into Toby's dark mind with epic riff after epic riff, all the deep chords you expect from the style, the grind, and then, what's this? Melody and beautiful soloing that somehow doesn't take away the intensity, but gives it maturity and heart - blackened as it is. The vocals are extremely harsh and distorted and augment the utter desolation of much of their musical bed, as does the cover art. It is a whole and unified statement that Toby is a master of this style of music, and in his virtuosity as a guitarist, he has breathed new life, respectability, and perhaps hints of the other styles he is known for, particularly the more Classically influenced soloing, into a genre that at its best can be extreme art and one of my all-time favorite forms of metal, and at worst a childish and ridiculous attempt at frightening the weak-minded. Waxen is equal to the best in the genre, and having a musician of Toby's experience and calibre is the perfect compliment to an album which is a labor of, for lack of a better and more sinister term, love." - Jimmy Pitts

Toby 2016- and yes- haven't had a haircut in 25 years. Time for a change.

Toby 2016- and yes- haven't had a haircut in 25 years. Time for a change.