In 1988 I was first introduced to Impellitteri through the amazing album, STAND IN LINE, their debut album that featured Graham Bonnet on vocals. Bonnet may have been the reason I got it, but once I heard guitarist Chris Impellitteri play.... I had a reason to stay. Impellitteri (the guitarist) was at the beginning of the shredder movement of players, guitarists who were blazing fast, sometimes fast for the sake of playing fast. But Chris, his band and his songs used the speed and velocity to help the songs, not build songs around the soloing. And now Impellitteri is back with their first new album since 2015's VENOM... called THE NATURE OF THE BEAST!
As I start to write my review, having listened to this album a few times from start to end, I am struck by how much is going on in each song. Lyrically and musically each one has its own identity! Sure Impellitteri's playing is the focal point , but vocalist Rob Rock is the perfect partner, being able to match whatever comes his way. Songs like the album opener Hypocrisy, Fire It Up and Gates Of Hell come out with guns of blazing, but it is now, and never was, speed for the sake of speed. Longtime bassist James Amelio Pulli and drummer Jon Dette are amazing, having so much to keep up with and still finding spaces to add their styles and sounds, especially on Wonder World and the cover of Black Sabbath's Symptom Of The Universe.
Speaking of Black Sabbath, there is so much of that heavy riffing vibe to this album as well as an almost thrash feel that I don't think I ever heard before in their music. But the album isn't all rippin' and head banging, my favorite song on the album, Man Of War has moments of Dokken and Van Halen in the verses and bridge, then gets real thumpin' in the chorus.. then a trademark guitar solo. The last song on the album, Shine On has some amazing harmony vocals sounding a bit like Stryper... and that is a good thing, especially with its positive and empowering message. THE NATURE OF THE BEAST may be driven by guitar, but that isn't the only thing there... there is so much amazing stuff going on.
Chris Impellitteri has always been one of the best guitarists out there and certainly one of the best of the shredders out there, but his true talent lies in being able to make the leads and solos fit the songs. This album has also made me reevaluate Rob Rock as a vocalist, because this guy is amazing and I never really gave him the credit he deserves. If you have never heard him before, he is a cross (at least in my ears) of Kip Winger and former Black Sabbath vocalist, Tony Martin. THE NATURE OF THE BEAST is an album that offers metal fans so much, especially when you least expect it.
MATMAN RATING - 4 OUT OF 5
THE NATURE OF THE BEAST will be released October 12th on Frontiers Music s.r.l.
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.