|Musical Style: Instrumental Hard Rock||Produced By: Pastor Brad|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website: Pastor Brad|
|Tracks: 15||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 65:38|
While the eighties happened to be a time in which soaring lead vocals, big hooks and even bigger hair dominated the air waves and MTV, it was also an era of the guitar virtuoso as accomplished musicians such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Rex Carroll and others made their mark. One trend characteristic to the decade in question, along that line, was the instrumental hard rock album with Joe Satriani’s 1987 release Surfing With The Alien being one of the more noteworthy. Steve Vai’s Passion And Warfare (1990) and Out Of The Sun (1987) by Joey Tafolla were also highly regarded pieces, while David Chastain put out a series of very fine instrumental offerings in Within The Heat (1989) and Elegant Seduction (1991). It was not until 1995, however, that instrumental hard rock reached its zenith with James Byrd’s stunning Son Of Man (an album that can best be described as perfect in every way). On the Christian side of the fence, we had Jeff Scheetz – who recorded several quality instrumental outings in Woodpecker Stomp (1990) and Dig! (1992) – and Fourth Estate, a band which raised the standard of excellence on Finesse And Fury (1992) and See What I See (1995). Guardian lead guitarist Tony Palacios even got into the act with Epic Tales of Whoa! from 1998.
So where is this all leading us? To a minister out of Altoona, Pennsylvania by the name of Pastor Brad who also happens to be quite the accomplished guitar player. Pastor Brad has actually been on the busy side of things as of late, releasing two solo albums in 2004 (Get Real and Rock You Up), three more in 2005 (Out Of The Hellhole, Telecaster and The King Has Come) and one in 2006 (Shred). His latest offering, the aptly titled 2007 effort Reshredded, is a throwback to the instrumental hard rock albums that made the past two decades so special. Fans of the previously referenced guitarists, for instance, will find a home here (particularly Satriani, Chastain and Byrd) as will those into Slav Simanic, Rob Johnson (Magnitude 9) and Rick Renstrum (Rob Rock). Yes, very good company indeed but the quality here is of a very comparable level.
To fully acquaint yourself with Pastor Brad’s playing it is first necessary to listen to several of the albums up-tempo pieces such as “Reshredded” and “March To Mordor”, two scorchers in which he really cuts loose. The laid back sounds to “Rain” and “Arabian Nights”, on the other hand, display the more emotional if not poignant side to his playing. Reshredded, it is also worth noting, actually goes under the heading Pastor Brad AND Friends; and nothing could be more fitting when considering the talented guest musicians who make guest appearances on it: Saint guitarist Dee Harrington lends his abilities to three of the albums tracks, his work on the heavy duty “The Conquest” being of particular merit. Other guests include Jon Hooper (Unforsaken), who trades off with Pastor Brad on the energetic “Game Over” and “Arabian Nights”, James Griffin of Griffin-X (check out his shredding on the albums title track) and Andy England (his aggressive soloing being one of the highlights to “Rumplestiltskin”). Joe Nardulli appears as well, highlighting “Rain”, the aptly titled “Happy Song” and the metal juggernaut “BDBDBD” with his melodic style of playing. Finally, Richard Lynch, also of Saint, helps anchor the albums low end on eight of its tracks with his tight and steady work on bass.
At this point I would like to note that one of the strengths to Reshredded is the quality of the songwriting in that Pastor Brad has composed 15 songs that all hold up under repeated play. As a matter of fact, I might go so far as to describe this as “song orientated instrumental hard rock”. What do I mean by that? Well, I have a few too many instrumental guitar albums in my collection whose purpose, as far as I can tell, is to showcase the musicianship of the artists involved along with non-stop jam session after jam session. Now, one can find no fault with this because that is one of the purposes of instrumental music, right? But what can get lost in the process is that the songs, while certainly far from neglected, at times can take a secondary role to the musicianship. In other words, the instrumentation is great but often the music could be, well, a bit more interesting. Do you get my point? However, such is NOT the case on Reshredded in that Pastor Brad has struck the near perfect balance of quality musicianship and memorable songwriting- and that is what I mean by song orientated instrumental hard rock.
Production values are quite clean in allowing for a fluid mix of lead guitar and more than adequate amount of rhythm guitar. The bass, at the same time, stands out in the albums quieter moments. The only constructive comment worth offering revolves around the programmed drums. First and foremost, the drum programming sounds fine and in no way proves a detracting factor. But when the drum sound here is compared to that on, lets say, David Chastain’s Within The Heat (which features the timekeeping skills of Ken Mary) a noticeable difference is discerned. With that in mind, am I out of line to encourage the artist to employ a live drummer on any project(s) he records in the future?
The album gets underway with “Introduction”, a shorter (2:35) number that slowly fades in before being shored up its distance by a distorted sounding rhythm guitar.
The up-tempo “Reshredded” would not sound out of place on Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien. The song begins quietly only to kick into high gear as PB steps forward with a stretch of fluid sounding lead guitar. Following a brief interlude carried by narration, Jim Griffin graces the songs second half with some riffing that comes across blazing in capacity.
“Tear Down The Walls” maintains the up-tempo momentum. An aggressive aura is established throughout the songs first several minutes as PB provides for some biting work on lead guitar. The second half to “Tear Down The Walls”, on the other hand, features the first appearance of Dee Harrington who furnishes a run of his trademark technical soloing abilities.
“Rain”, as its title implies, calms the scene down a bit. The song opens, appropriately, to the sound of a thunderstorm prior to moving slowly ahead to lead guitar work that is at times emotional and at others razor sharp. Joe Nardulli makes his presence felt the second half of “Rain” in putting forth a fast fingered display of soloing.
“Riffage”, another aptly titled piece, commences in laid back fashion only to abruptly pick up in pace to a deluge of rhythm guitar. PB contributes all lead guitar here, highlighting the song with a guitar riff that reflects a commanding feel while transitioning back to occasional passages with a bluesy feel.
PB also handles all guitar duties on “Emperial Musings”. The song slowly moves through its first minute to what sounds like ethereal guitar feedback. As “Emperial Musings” picks up in pace, a hard hitting guitar riff takes over and drives things forward as PB energetically solos in the background. The keyboards at the songs halfway point hint at Joey Tafolla’s Out Of The Sun.
The six and a half minute “The Conquest” starts calmly before suddenly kicking into high gear to a run of gritty soloing. After the song breaks for a passage sustained by marching boots and machine gun fire, a driving riff holds sway over the bristling atmosphere until Harrington makes a cameo appearance with a run of furiously played lead guitar. PB takes what is one of the albums heaviest tracks to its conclusion in stylish manner.
An acoustic guitar underlines the airy tones of “A Lighter Side Of Melancholy” its full distance. PB imparts his clean sounding lead work to the songs first half, while Harrington adds his unique touch to the second: the solo he cuts loose with at the 3:23 mark is nothing less than jaw dropping.
“Religious Club” centers around narration taken from a sermon by PB in which he talks about the true meaning of Christian love. The song, backed by an acoustic guitar, breaks at its halfway point for a passage of riveting lead guitar.
Tight sounding guitar harmony supports the first minute of “March To Mordor” before things takes off a snarling upbeat tempo. PB proceeds to cut loose and demonstrate in no uncertain terms why he is a top notch talent on lead guitar. Once the song reaches two and a half minutes, however, Griffin returns and livens things up with a garish display of soloing that lasts close to a minute.
“Happy Song” begins its first several seconds to laughing before a positive sounding guitar riff takes over. PB and Nardulli trade off on lead guitar the songs extent, adorning the vibrant scene with their copious style of playing. The “fusion feel” to “Happy Song” wound sound right at home on David Chastain’s Elegant Seduction.
The mid-tempo hard rock of “Game Over” finds PB and Jon Hooper swapping leads (plenty of pyrotechnical soloing bestowed by the two). Nevertheless, I enjoy how at just past its halfway point the song breaks for an interlude of quietly played guitar before returning to its heavier and more resolute musical direction.,
“Arabian Nights” is an even sounding piece in which PB and Hooper again handle all lead guitar duties. As the song moves forward, it transitions between passages fortified by catchy guitar harmony and others in which soloing of a gripping style plays a prominent role. So much emotion and feeling is displayed on this one I cannot help but be reminded of James Byrd’s Son Of Man.
“Rumplestiltskin” embarks in settled – almost bluesy – fashion only to take off to a forward swell of rhythm guitar. PB cuts loose over the songs first two minutes prior to Andy England fading in with a run of lead guitar that can best be described as spirited (the aggressive feel to his playing perfectly fits the mood to the music).
Introduced to the sound of an engine turning over, “BDBDBDBD” progresses to a blend of edgy rhythm guitar and pounding drums reinforced by periodic displays of flashily played lead guitar. At just past the songs mid-point, Nardulli adds to the daunting environment with his smooth sounding style of playing.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Introduction” (2:35), “Reshredded” (4:29), “Tear Down The Walls” (3:55), “Rain” (3:54), “Riffage” (3:59), “Emperial Musings” (4:26), “The Conquest” (6:28), “A Lighter Side Of Melancholy” (4:00), “Religious Club” (4:57), “March To Mordor” (4:25), “Happy Song” (4:24), “Game Over” (5:03), “Arabian Nights” (4:21), “Rumplestiltskin” (4:21) and “BDBDBDBD” (4:22).
Pastor Brad – Guitars & Bass
Andy England, James Griffin, Dee Harrington, Jon Hooper & Joe Nardulli – Guitars
Richard Lynch - Bass