|©2003 Star Machine Records
2. Mr Grinch
4. Heart Of The Soul
6. Half Moon Nights
7. Song For Young
8. 11th Hour
Italian-Americans are extremely well represented among the once-glorious crowd of virtuoso guitarists; Satriani, Vai, Petrucci and DiMeola being the most obvious examples. So when someone named Bill Lonero comes along with an instrumental guitar album, one is tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume said album will feature great over-the-top guitar, especially when said album features Satriani cohort Stu Hamm on bass and Vai sideman Mike Mangini on drums.
Big mistake. Slather is quite possibly the worst instrumental rock album I have ever heard. Not only are the melodies bad emulations of Satriani's ("Cyberotic") and the harmonies repetitive and simplistic ("Half Moon Nights"), Lonero's playing is laughably amateurish and his incompetence is, well, slathered all over this pathetic record. Clams abound ("Cyberotic"); "Slather", the title track, is filled with bad wannabe-Satriani legato phrases that go nowhere and run-of-the-mill Whammy-pedal effects Steve Vai's mechanic's brother-in-law could have come up with, Lonero's intonation is often questionable ("Song for Young") and when he tackles the requisite power-trio boogie ("Sidesteppin'"), his stunted lines make it abundantly clear he's completely out of his league. The most striking aspect of Lonero's playing is that he sounds as if he's constantly on the edge of his seat and can barely keep up with the backing tracks: his rhythmic placement is questionable, to put it mildly, and his lead lines betray a dire lack of planning and experience in what makes a good solo that goes somewhere (cf. the work of Brett Garsed, Steve Vai or Chris Poland).
Lonero is evidently very proud of having recorded most tracks all the way through and leaving everything captured as is, instead of fixing it in the mix. But no amount of studio trickery could have fixed this in the mix, short of scrapping all the guitar tracks and releasing the CD as a background jam CD for beginning guitarists - the rhythm tracks are indeed excellent, albeit hampered by fourth-rate chord progressions. And to be fair, if you can abstract away from the vile guitar playing and compositions, the overall sound is pretty darn good.
That this man gets any gigs is testimony to the sad fact that the vast majority of instrumental guitar rock fans are deaf and will lap up just about anything. Maybe it's their mullets. Or the noise of their Camaros' engines. Either way, the only shredding on this album is the one it will undergo between the blades of my trusty Fellowes(tm) Cross-Cut.
Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier
Review date: 07/2004