Pick Your Rock and Metal

Thursday, September 22, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Monte Pittman powers through with prowess on Inverted Grap of Balance

HE is Madonna's touring guitarist. He played in Prong. He teaches guitar. But above all Monte Pittman is one helluva metalhead, azeman extraordinaire.

If you tentatively sampled his first release 'Power of Three' on Metal Blade and gave it a nod then strap yer metal braces in tight because 'Inverted Grasp of Balance' raises the bar that even the best Fosbury Flopping Olympian couldn't match this step up.

Here we find the alchemist's elixir. Well arranged tunes, riffs that rock more than an earthquake's max Richter scale, solos that seer your hearing and just more metal sensibilities than you can cope with.

Whether it is the opening pacey duo of 'Panic Attack' and 'Arisen in Broad Daylight' or the hyper catchy 'Skeleton Key' this is as close to the complete metal assortment as you can come.

Indeed there are at times when you think this is the type of record Dio could be recording now had his life not been cut short.

It is varied, it has tonality differences, the singing is clean but perfectly suited to the songs, and all have a balance in their structure and place on the album.

Whether it is the power of 'California' or the alt-version of a power ballad closer 'New Blood Keeps Us Alive' these are songs that engage and empower.

While the playing is exemplary - as well Pitttman Billy Sheehan and Richard Christie make up the rest of the threesome - it also has a nicely ambiguous lyrical slant.

"I like to write in a way where the listener can decide what the song is about", said Monte. "Like when looking at abstract art and each person sees something else.

"So a song like 'Guilty Pleasure' could be viewed from the point of view of either an antagonist or a victim.

"There are also some "ghostly, supernatural"connotations, such as 'Be Very Afrai'", which is about living in a haunted house, but can also be perceived as a take on the housing market crashing."

What is most impressive about this release is that whether you are someone steeped in the NWOBHM, a thrasher, or a hard rock fan or just a casual metalhead all the songs will engage you.

And, if you are a fan of the best of guitar playing then this should be in your collection.

As he said himself: "I incorporated some different, odd scales and chords into a lot of it. If I found myself repeating ideas, I knew to go somewhere else with it.

"As someone who teaches guitar, I also wanted to be able to use the leads as examples for teaching guitar lessons. In 'Obliterated', there are several little elements that could be guitar lessons on their own."

This is an album that sweats a love of the guitar, a love of rock and bursts with so many metal sensibilities that the so-called extreme metal acts need to listen to this and re-assess their sensibilities and aspiring guitar gods needs to listen to and weep a little...

Review by Jonny

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