Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Peter Tinari - Embrace The Darkness

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: progressive, instrumental, heavy metal
Label: Architechtonic Machine
Year: 2011
Home: California

Members: Peter Tinari ~ guitars/bass

Guests: Derek Sherinian ~ keyboards
Enzo DiPaolo ~ drums
Matt 'Nino' Contino ~ guitar solo


I've always had a bit of an interest in prog-metal fusion keyboardist Derek Sherinian, formerly of Dream Theater, Alice Cooper & now trolling through the headlines with Black Country Communion. Successor in Dream Theater Jordan Rudess oftens gets top billing as king of the prog-metal keyboardsbut even though my spouse attended Juilliard with Rudess & with a few of his early solo albums sitting around the house ... I'll still say that Sherinian has a better more exciting solo output ... its at least more metal. The problem is so much of his output seems to be passed over with only occasional bursts in the spotlight ... & I'm not talking about the tour he did with Kiss playing behind the amp out of sight in what he's called the worst gig with the greatest band. Besides the aforementioned groups he's worked with Billy Idol, Yngwie Malmsteen, numerous guest spots while his solo work have had array of guests from the ranks of the metal world. But, until Black Country Communion for some reason his name doesn't always bring the accolades one would expect. I find myself inspired to find out about this under-dog who I first discovered playing behind Alice Cooper ... who Alice once told a reporter deserved a whole chapter in his future autobiography, if that doesn't say something about him & his palying ... he didn't get though. When PT sent his new album Embrace The Darkness to me I had no idea the trio included Sherinian, but it immediately caught my eye. This is not a band with Sherinian but guitarist PT including Sherinian as part of a trio that is featured on every track. Sherinian is a special guest but his role far outweighs the normal guest output. I'm willing to bet most of you reading this blog won't know PT, but you will know Sherinian, so hopefully PT will forgive me for immediately getting your interest with the most obvious selling point almost losing the idea that it's actually not a Sherinian album. My lifelong music theory for listeners that has shown to be successful - if Aaron Copland can tell how to listen to music so can Aaron Joy - is that you get people interested by building a bridge from what they know to what they don't, not from first handing them something they don't know. Sometimes this works, but it depends on the listener. To throw Ravi Shankar soloing away on sitar might be a bit alienating if you aren't used to its sound, but to give you George Harrison playing the instrument on a Beatles album is a good bridge. So, I had you the known entity of Sherinian with the footnote that if you enjoy him, well, he's got very good taste in who he works with so let me now introduce you to PT. But, before we leave Sherinian completely behind let me say that I would go on a limb & profess that this might be a better introduction to Sherinian's playing than some of his solo albums. In the trio format with no guests to take away the spotlight, an additional guitarist appears for a solo on only the opener, Sherinian is allowed to shine in all his fast finger glory. Further there's a cohesiveness to the whole here that some of his solo outings lack. PT is the sole credited composer handing tracks over to Sherinian to add to, versus Sherinian composing songs over a couple years while in that band or that tour. Though, for the host's part, PT chugs away on heavy metal guitar throwing down rhythms & solos, & bass duties, while Sherinian dances on the proggier edge. PT has chosen the perfect format for the vision. The piano/drums/guitar format allows the music to shine in extremely tight arrangements that are literally breath-taking in their scope & execution.The best metaphor I can think of is the acclaimed trio of jazz pianist Bill Evans with Scott LaFaro & Paul Motion. It was said that Evans brought the piano/bass/drums trio to a new level as it was no longer a pianist with rhythm section following, for example Nat King Cole for comparison or Marian McPartland, but three musicians playing as one weaving between each other in a thick sound. It's not rhythm & lead but one large duet .. or tri-et? This is the prog-metal version. It's almost impossible to pick out one instrument. Where PT leaves off Sherinian picks up while DiPaulo is more than just a drummer but providing important counter-point often missing in instrumental rock music. It's reactive. It's vibrant. PT has created a layered ear-fest that goes beyond normal instrumental rock guitar to instead careen, soar & enlight. If there's any complaint it's that it soars too much with too many notes for one listen & not enough slow time to build contrast. Even after a few listens, which is a double sided coin as its also a good thing, its impossible to hear all the lines moving in & out of each other & the band interplay. Though, today, I wonder if people still listen to a single album over & over like once upon a time when it was impossible to get a hundred new songs with the press of a button. There's no more bringing home a new album from the store, putting it on & listening to it over & over all night every night. If someone gives PT & company time this is an amazing tour-de-force but will he be able to find the audience that has time? Whether one listen or a hundreds the album undoubtedly throws everything into every song with slower parts being left to openings of songs & too brief moments (i.e. "Marked In Shame", "Now I Lay Me Down"), not giving some of the songs enough individual space to breath. Breath ... there's a good bit of advice for any musician. Beath versus verging on clutter. But, that's the only advice I can give, because really this is one of the better instrumental rock guitar albums I've heard in awhile. Fans of Sherinian will definetly want it in their collection.

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