Distributor/label: Metal Blade Records
Distributor/label URL: http://www.metalblade.com/us/
Released: 21st January 2014
– Monte Pittman – Vocals/Guitar
– Kane Ritchotte – Drums
– Max Whipple – Bass
1. A Dark Horse
2. Delusions of Grandeur
3. Everything’s Undone
4. Blood Hungry Thirst
5. On My Mind
6. Away from Here
7. Before the Mourning Son
8. End of the World
10. All Is Fair in Love and War
Few musicians transcend the confines of genres to such a degree that their catalogue can quite justifiably be viewed as a résumé of their multifaceted, and exceptional artistic expertise: Monte Pittman, however, is one such exception. Standing as Madonna’s touring and recording guitarist, and on occasion fellow composer since the commencement of the century, releasing a debut acoustic full-length filled with bursts of emotion, as well as a melodious charm, and now presenting a ruthless, almost Thrash Metal creation produced by Flemming Rasmussen of ‘Master of Puppets‘ fame, with some distinctly unexpected twists and turns sporadically contained; Pittman evidently refuses to shackle himself to a mould.
It’s for this reason that ‘The Power of Three‘ – a stripped back, relentless assault on the senses, intertwined and enforced with a signature, behemothic distortion and incredibly impressive screaming and energetic solos, enveloping the senses from one track to the next – is adorned with Cam Rackam’s haunting depiction of Charon, the ferryman of Hades: and yeah, it’s not just a skull. Charon, of course, is a character of transition. Someone who it’s said carries the souls of the deceased from the land of the living to the land of the dead – a monumental and altering expedition, if there ever was one, and it’s clear that Pittman wants us to view his musical journey in much the same way. This isn’t a re-hash of the old releases. It’s barely a semblance of them, to be sure. And it’s quite refreshing to hear an artist strive for more and test the boundaries and limitations of his own endeavours on a continuous and persistent mental voyage.
So, it’s different, and it’s heavy, but in a good way? In short, it’s difficult to say. It’s clearly less commercial, melodic, and – naturally – acoustic. It also instantiates a definite and determinate form throughout, with each song bearing the same type of ‘feel’ as a product of the incessant chugging riffs, heavily modulated vocals, shredding solos, and overall, some kind of synthesis of Black Label Society with, perhaps, Exodus, especially in light of the snare-and-double-bass-driven riffs, as well as the unforgiving storm of pervading distortion. ‘A Dark Horse’ and ‘Delusions of Grandeur’, for example, should bring a smile to any Metal fan’s face. On the other hand, ‘End of the World’ boasts a harmonious and uplifting introduction and, once you get past the typical power chord riffs of ‘All is Fair in Love and War’, the expressive soloing of Pittman resonates with a manifestation of the passions.
That said, the transitions between the different sections of each track are a little questionable, to say the least, with the general adoption of letting the chord ring out before fundamentally changing the course, and with a lack of any particularly surprising apparition, it’s very predictable, and consequently unavailing. You know what’s coming, and each song is entrenched in the same mould, with limited vocal variation (save for some pig-squeeling in the final track). So, it’s different, it’s heavy, and it’s surely a solid effort on Pittman’s part, but overall, it’s unfortunately quite tedious and disappointing in comparison to his earlier releases. Perhaps dwelling in the land of the living is to be advised.
Review By Tom Payne