Sunday 5 July 2015

Tremonti - 'Cauterize' (Album Review)

‘It is not metal like Celtic Frost, certainly, but it is as metallic as bands like Black Label Society for instance.’

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 09/06/2015
Label: FRET12

‘Cauterize’ CD//DD track listing:

01. Radical Change
02. Flying Monkeys
03. Cauterize
04. Arm Yourself
05. Dark Trip
06. Another Heart
07. Fall Again
08. Tie The Noose
09. Sympathy
10. Providence

Tremonti is:

Mark Tremonti | Vocals, Guitars
Wolfgang Van Halen | Bass
Eric Freedman | Rhythm Guitar, vocals
Garrett Whitlock | Drums


Sludgelord... a blog for all things sludgy, doomy, sometimes even thrashy or deathy but always underground/alternative and often extreme. Why is a mainstream rock/metal record getting reviewed here?! Read on and find out...

Mark Tremonti, the prodigiously talented guitarist of Alter Bridge and (yes, sadly) Creed returns with this sophomore solo record which features none other than Van Halen offspring Wolfgang on bass. Mark's love of all things thrash is well documented (he professes an ongoing love for Celtic Frost and other 80's metal firmly on the darker side of the genre) and he brings out some of that here. To describe this as a thrash record would be inaccurate- it's not. There are sweeping melodic choruses- opener “Radical Change” is very speedy and very anthemic by turns. The sound is meaty and state of the art.

“Flying Monkeys” slows things down to a pleasantly chugging riff and groove. Again the chorus keeps things catchy and tones down the harshness. Essentially, the best way to sum things up are by stating that if Alter Bridge dropped most of their balladic tendencies and went all out as a rock/melodic metal hybrid, they would sound like this.

Tremonti has a fine singing voice and delivers a charismatic performance with a clear melodic bent to the writing. At no point does he growl or scream or outright go into extreme metal territory. Even the heaviest and fastest riffs are hummable and have a lot of light to go with the shade. The likes of the title track and “Arm Yourself” are very heavy in places and with speed and precision to boot. In my humble view, this is surely a metal record rather than rock- it tips over that line due to the speed and structures employed. It is not metal like Celtic Frost, certainly, but it is as metallic as bands like Black Label Society for instance. The solos are of course blinding; lightning speed and inventive runs abound. There is material which veers away from the heavier side- there is no aggression present in “Dark Trip” for instance, but it is still fine songwriting.

There are some truly huge riffs on here “Another Heart” opens with one and then backs off while “Fall Again” is perhaps the closest to an Alter Bridge ballad. “Tie The Noose”, meanwhile, is a great track full of edgy riffs and a fantastic chorus. The album keeps up the quality with the final two tracks, “Sympathy” (fine vocal performance here) and “Providence”. Whitlock and Friedman provide very able backing on drums and rhythm guitar/backing vocals respectively. Indeed, the drums of Garrett Whitlock are superbly played; snappy and very tight, just like on the preceding All I was record.

Yep, Cauterize is a great record. It is metal, it is hard rock but it is not extreme or underground in any way. Why review it here, then? Well, firstly it is a fine guitar driven album with great vocals and great introspective lyrics. Plus, the musicianship is top notch throughout, of course. That said, it is reviewed here because it exists on the edge of our weird universe of sub-sub-genres.

Indeed, if some kid who has never even heard of Electric Wizard but likes guitar driven music and thinks about picking up ‘Cauterize’ maybe he or she will search for a review... maybe he or she will read this one. Maybe they check out other reviews and check out those bands. Maybe they become an avid fan. Maybe they start a band and become the new Mark Tremonti or the new Electric Wizard. Most of us into metal sub-genres didn't start here. We moved towards it. I started with Metallica (The Black Album, in 1991) then went through Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Motorhead and Black Sabbath before seeking out the extreme and underground stuff. Long may that continue and long may we embrace all that we recognise as the being of the same breed. ‘Cauterize’ is certainly that, so if you want some well produced melodic metal look no further. And tell all your friends about it.

Words by: Richard Maw

‘Cauterize’ is available everywhere now

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