posted on 2/2009 By:
While I wouldn't necessarily say the heavy metal guitar solo is responsible for bringing me into metal, I'd certainly admit it's one of the many reasons I've stuck around so long. I'm a product of the Schenker/Iommi/Murray/Smith/Tipton years, so I enjoy it when an axeman really knows how to let notes fly without being overly wanky. This is also a major factor in terms of my devotion to the Maryland doom sound that wafted forth in the late 80's/early 90's, as nearly every band to come out of that scene featured a guitarist with ensorcelling powers of nimble fretplay wizardry. High on my personal list of favorites from that neck of the woods was Revelation, a band who, until now, hasn't released an album with its founding members in over 15-years.
The trio of Brenner, Hall and Branagan have been far from silent all these years, however. They've actually remained together under the Against Nature flag and released ten (!) albums of avant-garde doom, with each subsequent release pushing the plough further and further into progressive lands. But old friends and old habits die hard, thank God, because the triune have apparently decided to strip the bells and whistles once again and get back to the business of delivering classic, grade-A hazy doom.
Release truly bridges both paths travelled by the band seamlessly. While the core of the record is undoubtedly based on the Revelation principle of toppling with heavy & fuzzy doom riffs, there's ample evidence of the band's Against Nature penchant for pushing the progressive envelope as well. For every measure of supreme heaviness -- the latter part of "Once Summer", the 2:20 mark of "Anatomy of Melancholy" and the unbelievably doomy start to the closing track, for example -- there are equal durations of hazy, summery mellowness and ode's to guitar gods of yore exemplified by the band's A.N. years -- check the title cut's crowning ode to Iommi at the 5:30 mark, or the Zepplin devotion a minute into "Then and Again", for example.
But let's get back to the guitar solo. Despite the apt skill of all players present, it's difficult to not spotlight the duties brought forth by guitarist/vocalist, John Brenner. This man is a fucking exceptional lead guitarist, and while I'd say his soloing is more abundant on the Against Nature material, Release soundly demonstrates this guy's peerless ability to HOOK you with a beautifully crafted lead. The passion and conviction delivered through his fretplay is staggering at times, and it's definitely one of the biggest selling points of Release, and likely stands as the best shredding I've heard since Greg Diener's work on Cemetery Earth.
Brenner's soft-spoken, slightly off-kilter vocals will be the biggest hurdle for some to leap, but you'll just have to trust me when I say you will warm to them if they strike you as strange from the onset (much like Manilla Road's Bryan Patrick, or any other eccentric crooners in our metal world). Truthfully, they've softened quite a bit over the years, so his days of sounding like Roger Miret (Agnostic Front) after eating a bowl of Quaaludes are pretty much behind him. I'd say they honestly suit the band's aesthetic perfectly, and definitely compliment the warm, hazy segments of Release wonderfully.
If I'd caught one of the very, very limited Leaf Hound pressings of this album from late 2008, it certainly would have found a spot on my top ten list at year end. Sadly, personal issues with Leaf Hound's owner/operator caused him to temporarily close shop over in Japan, so the band was forced to look elsewhere to give Release its proper "push." Luckily, our friends over at Shadow Kingdom have quickly picked up the slack and reissued this gem in January of this year. In other words, it looks like I'll be getting a fresh chance to secure a high spot for this beast in my 2009 top ten, and I'm certain that's exactly where it's destined to land. Simply put, Release is a fuckin' beautiful record, and I'd call it an essential release for those who hold true doom close to their hearts.
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For The Sake Of No One
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