Gracious saints alive, what have we got here? An instrumental record that touches the hems of traditional, prog and thrash metal with pure excellence in both writing and execution, and it’s done by just one fella? Uncanny, but true. Canada’s Imperium is the sole doing of Adarsh Rangayyan, who handles all guitar, bass and drums with equal parts skill and refinement. The riffs are sturdy and memorable, the solos cry out for budding young guitarists to take heed, the bass notes make themselves heard without being overwrought and the drums are everywhere they need to be, smart fills aplenty. One can hear, alternately, Iron Maiden without the Air Raid Siren, Metallica without the tainted legacy, Children of Bodom without the chicanery, Canvas Solaris without the angularity, Joe Satriani without the indulgences, Behold...the Arctopus without the extremity and The Fucking Champs without the irony. Just lots and lots of good ideas on display. You know you’re in the presence of a maestro when he can run a gauntlet of three consecutive seven-minute songs (“Valley of Souls,” “Sea of Treachery,” Rise of Hyperion”) and emerge not just unscathed, but victorious. The snare drums on certain tracks have a certain indie pop to them and the album bears the slight disjointedness befitting one recorded in two sessions in 2007 and 2009, but those are decidedly minor concerns for me. Imperium is a delight from start to finish, proving that “tasteful shredding” is not a mutually exclusive term.