|©1998 Magna Carta
2. An Exchange Of Niceties
5. It's Over, Johnny
7. Fly Pelican, Fly
11. The Gift From Enchilada
12. Merton Hanks
13. Ill Fated Conspiracy
14. The Blood Room
18. Say Hello To My Little Friend
Yay! Another Magna Carta supergroup! This time, the prog/metal/shred label gives us the result of the studio experiments of studio/Michael Hedges bassist Michael Manring, ex-Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick, and ex-Primus drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander. And that result isn't pretty. Just as throwing first-rate ingredients into a pot and shaking them really hard for an hour won't get you anything resembling haute cuisine, this album is a mess and makes the listener reach for the skip button every thirty seconds and ultimately fails to deliver on most counts.
While the musicians are clearly extremely proficient and have proved their musicality elsewhere (at least Manring and Alexander have), this album sounds like a slightly edited jam session where nobody listens to each other, and nobody ever plays anything musical or melodic for more than a few seconds at a time - and what little melody there is sounds like patterns stumbled upon while jamming to some one-chord groove.
The word is that Skolnick studied jazz after Testament and attempted to blend his early metal influences with that new idiom. Sadly, he seems to only have blended the guitar sound of metal with jazz players' more annoying and meandering tendencies to blow with little rhythmic precision or sense of melody, and in the process turned a proficient but overrated metal musician into yet another nondescript and resoundly redundant fusion guitar player. Manring's innovative bass playing is upfront and fun to dissect, but never comes close to the lyricism of his solo album Thonk; one often feels that the bass line on one track could have been used in another and nobody would have noticed. The most interesting part of this album is probably Alexander's drumming, which is mixed rather loud on certain tracks, and sometimes makes you wish it was the only instrument on the record.
Only recommended to those for whom casserole represents a pinnacle of culinary excellence.
Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier
Review date: 06/2001