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Electro Quarterstaff Gretzky

Electro Quarterstaff - Gretzky
1. Neckwrecker
2. Twisted Squid
3. Charmony
4. The Right To Arm Bears
5. Get Sick
6. Titanium Overlords MP3
7. Eyepatch Romance
8. Something's Awry in the Hetfield of Dreams
2006 Willowtip Records

Reviewed by: Cory   //   Published: 2/5/2007

Electro Quarterstaff are a technical metal fan's wet dream. Gretzky is fifty minutes of intricate and varied technically adept metal that shreds from front to back without the aid (or hindrance) of vocals. I'm generally not a fan of instrumental metal, but you can definitely tell that much of what Electro Quarterstaff does wouldn't be possible if they had to make room for a vocalist. This streamlined approach lets the music speak for itself and, more often than not, it speaks quite eloquently.

Most of the disc's eight compositions sit at or around the six minute mark. I was a bit skeptical that EQ's brand of high-intensity instrumental prog-thrash could keep such ambitious pieces afloat, but ambition should be this band's middle name. They effortlessly switch gears from song to song, filling songs like "Charmony" with excellent, mid-tempo melodic leads and underline its follow-up "The Right To Arm Bears" with furious grinding before giving way to a sludgy odd-tempo midsection. The band's three guitarists and lone drummer accomplish everything musically that Mastodon wishes they could. By eliminating the vocal aspect, they've also found a way to tie all the album's various concepts together fairly easily.

While the lack of vocals often works to the band's advantage, I did occassionally find myself getting lost in the album or even in a single track. The lack of vocals also often seems to lead to a lack of structure that sometimes hurts what could otherwise be incredible tracks. Honestly, this album has more great riffs than just about anything I've heard in the past year and every lick gets the listener's complete and undivided attention. It's just a little harder for me to keep focused on a metal band without any vocal presence. Listening to Gretzky repeatedly is helping me cope with my deficiency, but it hasn't completely cured my attention deficit issues.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention the amazingly bizarre artwork comprised of paintings by Blane Throttle. This is definitely some of the most immediately intriguing stuff I've ever seen on a metal record and probably ever will. The sheer absurdity of all its cartoon-ish glory truly has to be seen to be believed.

Bottom Line: The musicianship on Gretzky should be enough to turn any music fan's head. Thankfully, the songs generally rise far above mere technical wankery and actually form memorable and worthwhile compositions. I highly recommend this disc to anyone with an appreciation for metal, regardless of your penchant for the instrumental side of things. Electro Quarterstaff ain't your hipster douche friend's instrumental metal act.

Swamplord_   posted 2/15/2007 12:39:08 PM
Sweet album. 8/10
Nick_   posted 2/10/2007 11:53:34 AM
Also, this CD is excellent.
upperdeckered_   posted 2/8/2007 3:15:21 PM
Am I just crazy or was this review posted like two months ago? I swear it was up at one point. Oh well. Love this cd.
onemanfistttfiiiiightttt_   posted 2/7/2007 6:16:15 PM
I can dig it. Keep it up.
Andrew_   posted 2/7/2007 1:59:51 PM
I feel the Mastodon comment is warrented for the sole reason that 2 of the members were once a part of one of our main influences, Lethargy. We've never written songs with the intention to sound like Mastodon so any similarities probably stem from similar influences for both bands (the downpicking stylings of James Hetfield). The comments are appreciated, good or bad keep them coming.

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