Sunday, November 11, 2007

Album Review - Outworld "Outworld" (2006)

Some time ago, in the news post, I've mentioned the band Outworld and their eponymous debut CD. After that, I thought some of you may be unfamiliar to this group and the album... so here I give you the chance to learn a thing or two about them :)

Ever heard of Rusty Cooley? Yes, I mean that crazy dude who easily rips 18 notes in a second using any technique you want. Such players are often said to be unable to become an integral part of a band, as their overgrown ego forces them to solo all the time. Well, those who believe in such myths should immediately get a listen to Rusty’s band’s self-titled debut which proves them wrong.

Warning! Despite containing some of the craziest shred lines ever heard, it’s NOT a typical shred album! Instead you get over an hour of a very good, complex thrash/prog metal.

From the very first seconds of the very first track you know where you are! Outworld doesn’t waste time on soppy ballads – their music is heavy, intense, and technical from the beginning to the last note.

Although it’s their first full-time release, Outworld consists of five mature, experienced musicians who have been playing together for a couple of years. So it’s no surprise that they have already developed their own, distinctive sound, relying heavily on Rusty’s guitar style and Carlos Zema’s vocal manner. He is an example of my favorite kind of metal singer, having a strong, masculine voice and great phrasing skills. What caught my attention, is his rare ability to sound aggressive and melodic at the same time, avoiding growling and pointless screaming, keeping everything under control instead.

Mr. Cooley shows that he fully deserves the “Metal Guru” title, under which he led an instructional column, by masterful use of a vast range of patents and textures used in modern heavy music. He builds a solid rhythm basis with an extremely thick tone, while his clean parts perfectly create a dark, thrilling mood. When it comes to soloing, the best adjective to describe Rusty’s work would be “intense”, but it absolutely doesn’t mean mindless shredding all the time! The axeman perfectly combines fretboard-melting lines with slower, more melodic phrases. Personally, I really enjoy the “City of the Dead” solo every time I listen to it – by the way, the whole song is a great composition with Symphony X – feel. However, the album’s guitar highlight is “Riders”, where a technical climax turns into an anthem-like melody reminiscent of Jason Becker at his best! Another memorable moment is the crazy instrumental part from “Outworld” that shows the whole band’s skills and great cooperation.

The shortest, and probably also the strangest track in here is “Prelude To Madness”. Notable feature of this small composition is quite unusual arrangement – just heavily distorted guitar with intriguing piano backing. I personally find Rusty’s approach to the tune slightly annoying, as what worked perfectly over typical metal background (wide vibrato, „gain knob over 10” tone and superhuman picking) doesn’t go that well with delicate keyboard sound. However, the benefit of this short piece is a break in the overall metal mayhem.

I’ve picked up some of the songs in above description, simply because these are the ones that drawn my attention the most. But the rest of Outworld’s musical material firmly keeps up to high level, and each of you can mark another tracks as the album picks, it’s just a matter of your taste as we really have eight equally good compositions in here. But some of you must rely on my opinion just as long as you haven’t heard the whole record… hey folks, time to change it!

Overall Rating: 8/10

Track Listing:

1. Raise Hell
2. Riders
3. Warcry
4. Outworld
5. The Never
6. City Of The Dead
7. Prelude To Madness
8. The Grey Tide
9. I Thanatos


Rusty Cooley – Guitars
Carlos Zema – Vocals
Shawn Kascak – Bass Guitar
Matt MacKenna – Drums
Bobby Williamson - Keyboards

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