Sunday, October 5, 2008

Album Review - Jeff Treadwell "Nightmare"

Jeff Treadwell is a professional guitarist, composer, and instructor from the Chicagoland area. His musical style ranges from progressive rock to extreme metal, although he is best known for his ability to write extremely dark and heavy music. While primarily self taught, Jeff has studied guitar with fellow Chicago guitarist Zack Uidl to further improve his musical skills. He is co-authoring a book with Zack on Vibrato, which will be released soon.

Jeff has recently released his first solo album "Nightmare" in September of 2008. It's dark, it's gloomy and you probably won't make it out alive.

Let’s look at the tracks:

The first track, “Prologue”, starts off with a haunting orchestral intro which flows into an eerie arpeggiated acoustic guitar section. A crushing 7 string riff enters at 1:21, introducing the main guitar theme. A quick guitar solo cleaves the heavy section in two, like the Grim Reaper claiming another soul, while the augmented arpeggios in the outro serve to further freak the listener out.

The second track, “Walk through the graveyard”, revisits the orchestral theme from the first track, but this time it’s all creepy clean guitars. The songs tempo is somber and the guitar melodies are sorrowful and scary. The epic solo starts off in the neoclassical realm, but shifts into more accessible rock style-phrasing. The song then quiets down before another climax of spine tingling shredding, and explosive swept arpeggios.

“Nightmare”, the third track, certainly lives up to its name. Starting off with the freakiest clean riff on the album, and moving to a nightmarish verse section, I nearly checked under my bed for monsters. The main theme is held down by a scary synth motif which is the canvas for Jeff’s terrifying solo’s and trademark, wide vibrato. I would peg this track as the single on the album.

“No More Will” starts out with some counter point guitar melodies (jazz metal anyone?) while the middle section sees Jeff sticking to tried and tested soloing strategies before the song emerges in a hell-fire of furious chugging guitar riffs, multiple guitar harmonized leads, and a huge guitar solo.

Track five, “Silent”, is lighter (though not brighter) than any of the preceding tracks. It is lead by tragic clean guitar riffs and a heart-wrenching solo. At 4:00 the song build up and introduces my favourite riff on the record, followed by another emotion filled solo.

“Intermission” comes out of left-field with a dreamy clean guitar intro and some bluesy leads. But just as you think that light has broken the darkness, a piano section straight out of the most frightening horror movie you ever saw, sends you right back into the nightmare.

The seventh track, “The Ferryman”, is all about the gloomy acoustic guitars and haunting sweeps which fade in and out like ghostly apparitions. A dramatic guitar solo and three-part harmony setup another horrifyingly aggressive, demon slaying shred-fest.

Track eight, “The Gatekeeper”, is the longest and most dynamic track on the album. Starting with a dark acoustic riff (which appears many times later in the track) and building into the heaviest section of the album, this track goes through several moods ranging from furious outburst to silent rage. The odd time signature at 3:35 is not for the skittish or faint-hearted, and neither is the shredfest at 3:45, where Jeff and guest soloist Zack Uidl duel it out. The song lets-up for a second, before the rising-up of a huge melodic section which includes another solo by Zack at 8:47.

The final track is called, “Halloween”, because Jeff wrote the whole song on Halloween of last year. The track is huge, crushing, and as spooky as the rest of the album. In this track, Jeff really lets loose the ferocity of his playing with blazing riffs and scorching licks, ending the album on a high.

Jeff’s playing is full of fire and passion. His lead guitar tone, control and phrasing is often far beyond that of a debut record. Terrifying.