Release DetailsLABEL N/A
RELEASED ON 10/15/2006
posted on 1/2007 By:
With 20 years of guitar experience and nine studio releases under his belt, Steve Cone’s latest musical escapade, entitled Distortion, sees the axeman/songwriter/producer bring 14 original songs to the heavy metal front for output number ten. His many influences would include UFO, Accept, Saxon, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motörhead, among others, and there’s no disguising the fact that each of those bands has influenced this recording, yet Cone has somehow been able to add his own little touch to it.
The song arrangements are fairly basic by today’s standard, with very lucid riff structuring paving the way. Opening tracks “The Gambler” and “Tastes So Good To Me” get the blood flowing with driving, rocking rhythms that, while a tad simplistic, show great potential in the early going. The lead work is very focused with plenty of note-frenzy runs (“The Chosen Ones”) and bluesy licks (“Hangin’ By a Thread”, “Burning”), coupled with some blistering shredding by way of the picking hand (“Sixty Nine” – great lyrics on this one as well…can anyone guess what it’s about?), not to mention when Cone pulls out the full arsenal for the album's instrumental title-track. I'm not talking Petrucci, Vai or Satch here, so don't go crazy on me, now. But Cone has been playing for a while, and it's evident that he has gotten to know his instrument quite well. The vocals are somewhat unique in, yet again, an old-school kind of way, and I’m really hard pressed to list any similar vocalists. With that said, Cone employs a mid to higher ranged howl that is rarely on the gritty side and always in tune, again showing a great sense of melody along with a good ear for vocal harmonies, as heard on the slower ballads like “Alive” and “Understand”.
Where I get mildly turned off by this release, however, is the fact that the drums are programmed, thus giving the album an almost automated feel. I completely respect the fact that it takes a lot of time to work out the drum patterns, and I can certainly appreciate the time and effort put into that aspect of it all. But let’s be honest here, if you really want fans of good music to take notice of your work, then I really feel real drumming is an absolute must. Maybe that’s simply a personal requirement, maybe it isn’t, but the fact of the matter is a live drummer would have given these songs more life and creative flow.
When all is said and done, old-school metal enthusiasts might just find something of interest in this album, or any number of Steve Cone’s previous recordings (simply visit his website for a tour of his works). The guy can definitely play his instrument well, and he writes songs that are high energy and evoke positive vibes within a genre of music that has become extremely angry and hateful over the past 20 years. I would love to see this stuff played in a live setting, and hopefully Steve will make that a reality someday by putting together a solid group of musicians to give his music the live-ness it deserves. Solid work, if not a bit on the unfinished side.
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