Shred Lords: Matt Chanway
Written by Brett Kihlmire
It’s a common occurrence for the most talented musicians among our favorite bands to solo. This is a course of action that can either lead to great success or epic failure. For Matt Chanway, it’s just another avenue with which to deliver his aggressive guitar playing.
Matt’s musical journey began in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2004 when he was 13 years old, playing guitar in the school band.
“I actually started on acoustic initially, but when I saw an electric guitar played in front of me for the first time, I knew I had to have one.”
A year later his parents bought him his first electric guitar – a Squire Stratocaster.
Like any teenager getting their first taste of electric guitar Matt began exploring the world of rock and heavy metal. When he was a freshman in high school a friend introduced him to an album that changed his life – Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell.
“First it was almost too heavy for me at the time, but gradually I began to become addicted to the riffs and solos,” Matt says of the insane riffs and leads fired off by the late, great Dimebag Darrel.
Though Pantera was the beginning of his heavy metal odyssey, other bands and guitarists such as Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Alluvial, Tony Macalpine, Aghora, Circus Maximus and Revocation helped mold him into the player he is today. Of course, private lessons played their role as well.
A dedicated student of guitar, Matt eventually went on to earn a diploma in guitar performance from the University of West London. As well, he performed lead guitar with progressive death metal outfit Makaria in 2011.
It was in the same year that he joined forces with Makaria that he began writing tracks that would ultimately become his debut solo album simply titled Matt Chanway. The style heard on this record seethes the progressive death style he has become known for in his career, especially as lead guitarist for Canadian death thrashers, Assimilation, with which he has been performing with since 2016.
A guitarist with incredible skill, Matt is not the kind of player that is comfortable with playing the same style for long. In fact, he says his preferred approach is: “Melodic, challenging, relentless progressive metal.”
“I try to focus more on phrasing in my guitar playing as opposed to just techniques and ‘licks.’ I tend to use an economy-picked style to get a very fluid yet aggressive sound.”
Always out for a challenge, Matt writes music that is described as “complex compositions without compromising musicality” and he’s always working the push the boundaries of the instrument, which he feels is “one of the coolest, youngest and fastest-evolving musical instruments” thanks to the number of players who, like himself, constantly push the envelope.
Thirteen years behind the axe, Matt has accomplished a great deal in that time. He’s not only acquired great skill and the academic proof of such, but has two albums to his name and a second on the way. So what else does he have in store?
“Just constantly building my technique and composition skills, investing the money necessary in order to get my ideas recorded in a professional setting. I think anyone that’s walked this path knows it is a constant struggle and definitely not for everybody,” Matt says, but that’s not all he’s up to:
“Currently I’m studying for some more exams in music, doing some teaching, and continuing to write for a second album.”
As busy as he is impressive with his chosen instrument, Matt barely has time to breathe much less anything else at this point. With his debut solo album turning out to be “pretty much my magnum opus at this point” and the latest Assimilation album fresh on the shelves, he’s got his work cut out for himself, especially as he continues his quest to keep pushing the boundaries of the guitar and carving a niche for himself in the progressive metal community. And to that end he has some choice words for beginning and seasoned musicians alike:
“Practice and have patience. Play what you feel passionate about.”