|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: JVC Victor||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2000||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 40:35|
Crunch, the fifth full length album from Impellitteri to feature the combined talents of Chris Impellitteri and Rob Rock, showcases more of the bands trademark fast paced and energetic brand of heavy metal. With his neo-classical influenced style of playing, the gifted Chris Impellitteri still ranks among the fastest and most technically proficient metal guitarists of his era. Rob Rock continues to bring out the best in the bands sound with his abundant and smooth sounding classic tenor voice. Drummer Glen Sobel replaces Ken Mary - who performed on Impellitteri's three previous studio releases - and puts forth an intense performance that helps bring the bands all out raw energy to a level not found on past efforts. (Sobel is the dude dressed in chain mail in the photos accompanying the albums packaging.) James Pulli remains a steady presence on bass, while Edward Roth adds just the right amount of texture on keyboards.
The superlative production values to Crunch feature a plethora of rhythm guitar placed upfront in a near flawless mix of crystal clear lead guitar and punchy bass lines. The drums, for a lack of better words, are produced to utter perfection.
Initially released by JVC Victor in Japan, Crunch was later re-issued by Dream Catcher as part of a two CD set with the bands 1996 effort Screaming Symphony as the second disc. Please note that on the Dream Catcher version the songs “Forever Yours” and “Texas Nuclear Boogie” were replaced by a bonus track entitled “Freak Show”.
After "Beware Of The Devil" opens the album to a non-stop double bass driven riff, a voice states "Beware! Beware of the devil!" before the song rushes on to a catchy chorus backed by layered vocal harmonies. Chris nails a fast paced guitar solo to highlight a song comparing the devil to a dealer in a card game:
The devil looked into my eyes when I was seventeen
He said, "I'll give you all the world if you will follow me"
He dealt the cards, I drew the king
With this he was not pleased
And then he raised the stakes when he said to me (I am the devil)...
The dealer tried to conquer me
But I would not concede
Now everything he offered me was tempting to believe
I took a look inside my hand and saw the royalty
And then I called his bluff when he said to me: (I am the devil)
Introduced to a hard hitting rhythm guitar sound, "Turn Of The Century" moves forward with a ton of guitar driven momentum until it culminates for a strong melodic flavored chorus underlined by double bass. A fiery guitar solo helps to put the song over the top. "Turn Of The Century" deals with the anticipation of Y2K:
Y2K was a heartbeat away, still everyone sounds the alarm
Where did you hide when the digits all turned
Did computers and power go down?
The party’s alive in California
In Times Square the clocks ticking on
All over the world, spinning out of control
Celebration 2000 lives on
The aptly named "Speed Demon" immediately launches into a fast paced guitar riff that carries it at an upbeat tempo to a high energy chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. Chris nails an incredible pull-out-all-the-stops neo classical influenced guitar solo.
A driving mix of rhythm guitar and keyboards impels "Wake Me Up" forward before the keyboards drops from the mix at the start of its first verse. Advancing in near heavy handed fashion, the keyboards return as "Wake Me Up" reaches a chorus that, with a slight repetitious feel, does not hold up in the same noteworthy manner as the albums better material.
I find "Spanish Fire" to be the better of the albums two instrumental tracks. After the song takes off to a crunchy rhythm guitar reinforced by pounding drums, Chris cuts loose and proceeds to carry its duration with his lightning like lead guitar work.
"Slay The Dragon" ranks among the finest power metal numbers this reviewer has heard. Getting underway to a blend of edgy rhythm guitar and pounding double bass, a hard hitting riff pushes "Slay The Dragon" through its first verse with a profusion of vibrant momentum. Subsequent to double bass increasing the intensity level tenfold, the song moves on to an ardent chorus with a huge hook that will pull you in and refuse to let go. "Slay The Dragon" talks about putting an end to the devils control in your life:
You've been playing with the words of a liar
And you're tired of the war that you rage
You, you got to find the peace of mind
That you've been looking for
You, you got to fight to have the life
That you've been searching for
You gotta slay the dragon
You gotta kill the beast
The keyboards at the start of "Wasted Earth" transition to a massive wall of rhythm guitar, the all out double bass driven riff that kicks in propelling the song through its first and second verse at breakneck speed. After a commanding voice states "Generation, generation earth will prevail!", "Wasted Earth" slows as it transitions to a sweeping chorus with an overriding pristine feel. "Wasted Earth" tells the story of how all the resources on earth have been used up and mankind's search throughout the galaxy for a better place to live:
Born in the Age of Technology in the year of our Lord 2023
The earth has been poisoned and we had to leave
Now we are all afloat in the stars of the galaxy
There once was a time
When our planet earth was the only place to live
But we destroyed it all by taking all she had to give
And as we ride through the black horizon
I long for the days of old
'Cause I may never set foot on the wasted earth no more
The ballad "Forever Yours" is carried by an acoustic guitar during its first verse until the rhythm section steps forward as it picks up in pace for its chorus. Chris adds a very classy acoustic guitar solo. "Forever Yours" is a song about true love:
Take a look at the world today, a lot of love seems to slip away
When the feeling start to fade, they start to run
It's not the way its supposed to be
The flames of love only set you free
To make the choice that you want to be my only one
"Texas Nuclear Boogie", the albums seconds instrumental, gives prominence to a slight Joe Satriani feel. Commencing to thirty seconds of edgy rhythm guitar, the song quickly takes off as Chris cuts with his flashy lead guitar work. A bit short in coming in at just under three minutes, "Texas Nuclear Boogie" abruptly ends as it fades out to guitar feedback.
Ranking among the heaviest tracks Impellitteri has recorded, "Fear No Evil" begins to several seconds of guitar feedback before it launches into an aggressive double bass driven riff. Rock adds a measure of grit and gravel to his vocal delivery during the songs verse portions only to display the abundant range of his voice upon reaching its catchy chorus. Chris tops things off with another neo-classical influenced guitar solo. "Fear No Evil" is based around the story of the rich man and Lazarus:
Rich man looking down his nose at you
He's got the good life and you get abused
The Lazarus syndrome is in your face
Sore on your back, begging at the gate...
Rich man begging for another chance
Go tell my brothers to avoid this dance
Can't cross the river the gulf is fixed
Misery, suffering, eternal bliss
“Freak Show” is an exciting and fast paced number that commences, appropriately, to the voice of a circus ringleader. Once the song kicks in to a blend of driving rhythm guitar and keyboards, it advances in upbeat fashion to an energetic vocal harmony driven chorus. Chris puts his best foot forward, contributing a solo that starts out slowly before he cuts loose in his trademark fast paced manner at its end.
While Crunch might not quite rank with the bands more noteworthy efforts such as Answer To The Master and Screaming Symphony, it proves an all around commendable release in highlighting a solid production job along with the combined talents of Rob Rock and Chris Impellitteri. Unfortunately, the album ended up being the last to feature the duo in question, the two parting ways with Rock pursuing a solo career - and releasing several critically acclaimed solo albums - and Chris joining forces with vocalist Graham Bonnet and recording System X.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Beware Of The Devil" (3:54), "Turn Of The Century" (4:31), "Speed Demon" (3:20), "Wake Me Up" (4:55), "Spanish Fire" (3:35), "Slay The Dragon" (4:41), "Wasted Earth" (4:16), "Forever Yours" (4:30), "Texas Nuclear Boogie" (3:00), "Fear No Evil" (3:50)
Rob Rock – Lead Vocals
Chris Impellitteri – Guitars
Edward Harris Roth – Keyboards
James Amelio Pulli – Bass
Glen Sobel – Drums