6. Why Am I Telling You
9. Invisible Companion
11. Make Me Hate
12. In My Distress
1994 was not a good year for shred-guitar-heavy music. The popularity of musicianship had taken a dive everywhere following the explosion of Seattle rock in the early 1990s. Yet Shrapnel Records, the home of shred guitar's most brilliant and distasteful excesses in the 1980s, still nurtured the extreme virtuosity of musicians such as Derek Taylor, Crimeny's mastermind and a much more versatile musician than a lot of the one-dimensional finger-melters Shrapnel and other labels had unearthed in the past decade.
Whether his creative mind was genuinely in the same place as his north-western colleagues at the time or he was trying to ride said colleagues' flannel coattails, impossible to know; but the vocals on this album certainly bear the imprint of the brooding mid-1990s, with dissonant and unexpected vocal harmonies and melodies very much like those found on Alice In Chains' albums. However, that's where the resemblance ends. Taylor's timbre owes little to Seattle's criminally untrained bleaters, and he comes across as a clean, meaty thrash vocalist alternating with a melodic, polished, harmonizing Staley/Cantrell (with a sense of pitch). Some of the vocal melodies recall (very vaguely, mind you) Mike Keneally and Adrian Belew ("Simplicity"), but for the most part they are truly Taylor's own and fit in comfortably with the rest of the instruments. The music is slow, slow, slow down-tuned thrashy/doomy/grungy/dissonant metal with a rather interesting guitar tone; all the rhythms and leads sound as if they were played through the neck pickup rather than the bridge, which gives them a blunt, fat and grainy sound that is the complete opposite of the shrill, clean and biting tone usually found on typical thrash recordings. Add to that Taylor's pitch-lowering chordal playing and you get very interesting and original riffs and rhythms. Rob Stankiewicz on drums and Shrapnel guitar virtuoso Scott Stine on bass provide a tight and technical background to Taylor's vocal and guitar lines, without cluttering the auditory space with needless fills and annoying complex time signatures. In addition to all this, Taylor's short but remarkable shreddy guitar solos add some welcome variety and excitement to an album that may otherwise be a tad too dark and one-dimensional.
This CD occasionally pops up in used bins here and there, and you would be well inspired to pick up a copy, as it represents the best of what thrash and Seattle rock could have become.
Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier
Review date: 07/2003