“I wanted to make the heaviest and craziest music I ever have” is how Monte Pittman described one of the intents behind his new album, Inverted Grasp of Balance, going on to add, “I really feel that it’s an album that will grab you and demand your attention.”
It is an aim which is powerfully realised and statement swiftly proven true by his fourth album, though he should have added the adjective ‘rousing’ in there somewhere too as the Metal Blade encounter certainly raises the spirit and energies with forceful potency. The successor to acclaimed predecessor The Power of Three, Inverted Grasp of Balance sees the ex-Prong guitarist and long-time collaborator and guitarist with Madonna narrow the diversity to his sound without losing its broad character, a move which has brought a fresh intensity and predacious heaviness to another fiercely contagious and anthemic proposal from him.
Beginning the writing and creation of Inverted Grasp of Balance almost from the minute the work with The Power of Three concluded, Pittman teamed up with drummer Richard Christy (Charred Walls Of The Damned, Iced Earth, Death) and bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr Big, David Lee Roth, Winery Dogs) to record the album with Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther) handling production duties. From its first breath, the release launches itself at ears with an urgency and raw energy arguably not heard before in a Pittman offering, opener Panic Attack rising from a great sonic probing into a tempest of thrash fuelled rock ‘n’ roll. Pittman’s pick toys with guitar strings, creating an ensnaring web from the first seconds before both Christy and Sheehan collude in a fevered charge. Like Metallica meets Foo Fighters, the track romps and stomps, the trio creating a virulent tempest ensnared with the striking craft and imagination of Pittman’s grooves and splintered solos.
It is a mighty start which maybe even raises the ante in the following Arisen in Broad Daylight, certainly keeps the persuasion as intensive as the track excites and incites body and spirit. With moments of carnivorous personality, its powder keg of infectious energy and aggression simply infests the senses leaving the appetite greedy which successor Guilty Pleasure feeds further. Rising from the closing strains of the second track like a close cousin, the track is as grievously confrontational and irritable as it is an epidemic of punishing rhythms and bewitching guitar interplay, Pittman’s ever strong and galvanic vocals like a ringleader. With an excellent moment of predatory calm, the song makes a play for best track honours.
The Times Are Changing has a less menacing nature to its body next, but still weaves a network of sinister grooves and invasive rhythms to challenge the senses while Double Edged Sword entangles classic metal hues in its melody thick and magnetically volatile climate of sound and intensity with Sheehan’s bass a gloriously snarling and adventurous beast. Both tracks make a compelling persuasion with the brief Skids like hooks of the second a nice tempting touch around another fine wine of a solo before the haunting melodic seduction of the short guitar sculpted instrumental Cadabra allows a breath to be taken. It is a recovery quickly spent though as Pride Comes Before the Fall uncages its feisty prowl of cantankerous rock ‘n’ roll and even more impressively California devours the senses. Starting on a deliciously grumbling and inventive lure of bass, the track skirts ears, sizing them up with dark intent before sharing a half catchy and half raptorial proposal.
Through the ferocious virulence of Be Very Afraid and the drama soaked creative psychosis and tenebrous air of Obliterated, enjoyment of Inverted Grasp of Balance is firmly reinforced, the latter a muggy imagination inspiring instrumental after which Skeleton Key returns to a lighter and warmer landscape built on commanding rhythmic muscle and impassioned melodies and vocals.
Completed by New Blood Keeps Us Alive, a moment of melancholy spawned acoustic captivation which brews and explodes into a heart sharing roar, Inverted Grasp of Balance simply hits the spot. It might not be the most unique offering this year and is at its strongest in its first half but with the songwriting of Pittman its most rounded, his guitar craft exhilarating, and Christy and Sheehan matching in their individual invention, few releases will be as enjoyable in the short and long term than Inverted Grasp of Balance.
Inverted Grasp of Balance is out now via Metal Blade Records and through http://www.metalblade.com/us/releases/monte-pittman-inverted-grasp-of-balance/
Pete RingMaster 29/09/2016
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