The Top 25 Modern Metal Guitarists

#15: COLIN MARSTON (KRALLICE, BEHOLD… THE ARCTOPUS)

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MetalSucks recently polled its staff to determine who are The Top 25 Modern Metal Guitarists, and after an incredible amount of arguing, name calling, and physical violence, we have finalized that list! The only requirements to be eligible for the list were that the musician in question had to a) play metal (duh), b) play guitar (double-duh), and c) have recorded something in the past five years. Today we continue our countdown with Colin Marston from Krallice and Behold… The Arctopus…

Colin Marston is one of the youngest guitarists on our list, and his primary creative outlets (Krallice, Dysrhythmia, Behold…the Arctopus) haven’t yet reached the legendary status of so many of the other bands graced by the other 24 inductees. But in terms of his stylistic breadth and the scope of his abilities, Marston is in a league of his own.

There isn’t a signature Colin Marston guitar sound or style. Instead, Marston expertly adapts his talents to fit the project in question. On one end of the spectrum is Byla, the ambient guitar duo that Marston shares with Kevin Hufnagel; the project is all about abstraction and texture. On the other end is Behold…the Arctopus, a band that thrives on over-the-top virtuosity, deployed in the wackiest of ways – and let’s not forget that Marston executes all of Behold…’s atonal tone rows on a 12-string Warr guitar, which means he’s essentially shredding on two instruments at once. Somewhere in between those two poles is Krallice, in which Marston’s guitar lines intertwine with Mick Barr’s, creating ever-shifting harmonic patterns that tickle the ears like few black metal bands do. No matter what the guitar idiom, Marston has mastered it. No wonder that Luc Lemay asked him to join Gorguts as bassist. By the looks of the live footage from Gorguts’ 2010 mini-tour, it would seem like Marston’s fitting in just fine.

You might say that Marston is the Brian Eno of metal musicians. He only gets involved with interesting artists, and he elevates every single one by his presence. Exhibit A: his bass playing with Dysrhythmia. It’s no coincidence that the band’s 2006 album Barriers and Passages, the first to feature Marston as a band member, was a creative quantum leap for the band. Same goes for R. Loren’s Sailors with Wax Wings album, which Loren told us felt emotionally flat to him before Marston added his layers of guitars.

This is to say nothing of Marston’s considerable production prowess. He’s recorded or mixed hundreds of acts at his studio Menegroth: The Thousand Caves, from iconic metal bands (Atheist, Genghis Tron, Origin) to avant-garde jazz musicians (Anthony Braxton) to a slew of incredible but under-the-radar ensembles (Capillary Action, Extra Life, Zs) that fit into no category.  This may seem to have little to do with why Colin Marston deserves a spot on this list of the 25 greatest modern metal guitarists. But Marston’s clients tend to be just as idiosyncratic and wide-ranging as his own projects, and his production work is just as satisfying and adaptable as his guitar playing. This suggests that Colin Marston is more than just a great musician. He is a restlessly creative soul whose high standards apply to everything he does.

-SR

THE LIST SO FAR

#16 — Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)

#17 — Buckethead

#18 — Adam Jones (Tool)

#19 — Vernon Reid (Living Colour)

#20 — Misha Mansoor (Periphery)

#21 — Alex Skolnick (Testament)

#22 – Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved)

#23 — Synyster Gates (Avenged Sevenfold)

#24 — Chris Letchford (Scale the Summit)

#25 — Paul Ryan (Origin)

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