Axis Shift

Rob Metz

Warmouth Publishing, 2008

http://www.robmetz.com/home.html

REVIEW BY: Daniel Camp

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/27/2009

Instrumental rock is a tricky animal -- that’s all there is to it. Because of the influence of great instrumental guitarists like Joe Satriani, it has become nearly impossible to release an album of instrumental tracks without garnering comparisons and contrasts to the works of the greats. And worse, with no voice to lend a touch of originality to an otherwise brilliant track, oftentimes listening to an indie guitarist’s instrumental song is like watching an SNL actor play the president…it’s not so much a serious artistic effort, but merely an impression.

Thankfully, Rob Metz has dodged that problem in Axis Shift, an album sparkling with originality and musicality.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Metz’s sound has an air of New Age to it, as song titles like “Empire Of The Moon” and “Primal Fire” might suggest, but the guitars truly do rule the day. My favorite song kick-starts the album in style, as “Cosmic Ascension” has you bobbing your head to the impressive groove he lays down. His style really is reminiscent of Satriani’s, but he manages to maintain a sense of personal ownership, and you never get the feeling that he is merely copying his idols.

Tracks like “Flying Machine” and Ultraviolet” show Metz’s shredding abilities, and the faster pace breaks up what could have been the monotony of some slower, albeit melodious songs. These kinds of tracks are what instrumental rock is all about -- they tell a story without words, and do so very competently.

“Primal Fire” is probably the most unique song on the list, with a jazzy sound that distinguishes itself from the rest of the mostly New Age album. While the guitar still shines, the real virtuoso is Michael Swan on saxophone, who has what essentially amounts to a duel with Metz’s guitar mid-song before the two inevitably team up for the song’s final measures, a true treat for the ears. The abrupt ending further adds to the imagined effect of watching a live show in some dark club.

My only real complaint with this album is that the mastering can feel overdone at points. The synthesizer is heavily relied on in portions of songs, particularly the openings, and this can sometimes take away from the overall effect. However, in several cases, notably in “Dark Energy,” the synthesizer actually improves what could otherwise have been a dull song.

I have high hopes for this group. Rob Metz is definitely a talent in the instrumental rock world, one that I’m frankly surprised hasn’t been snatched up already by talent scouts. His songs contain vision, musicality, and, most importantly, he knows how to tell a story with his instrument. I highly recommend Axis Shift to anyone with a little imagination and 45 minutes to get lost in the music. It’s worth the time.

Rating: A-

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