Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: Glen Drover - Metalusion

Glen Drover [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]

Although Canadian guitarist Glen Drover's name became widely known in metal circles for his short (one-album) stints with King Diamond and Megadeth in the early aughts, the output from his own band Eidolon has been the talk of prog metal aficionados for nearly two decades. With Metalusion, his debut solo album, Drover emerges from the shadows of the bands he's contributed to and rightfully establishes his talent on his own merits. A collection of metallized jazz-fusion compositions, five of which are Drover originals, Metalusion manages to avoid the extreme guitar virtuoso wankery that puts off many listeners and is, as a result, a rather engaging instrumental album.

Drover is joined on his solo endeavor by a bevy of metal heavyweight guitarists as guests, including Chris Poland (ex-Megadeth), Vinnie Moore (UFO), Steve Smyth (Forbidden), Fredrik Akesson (Opeth), and Jeff Loomis (Nevermore). Collectively, their contributions to Metalusion add significant sizzle to what is already a solid lesson on six-string acrobatics. "Ground Zero", which features both Poland and Moore, gets the album started with strong leads that aren't too jazzy or experimental, yet clearly establish Metalusion as more than a paint-by-numbers exhibition. The track also features a nice piano accompaniment from Jim Gilmour, and it's this sort of arrangement that keeps the album from drifting off and becoming just about the guitars. One of the factors that makes Metalusion so enjoyable is that the guitars never really upstage the rest of the instruments in the five Drover originals. Instead, each song is highly melodic, rich, and imparts feelings of considerable mellowness over which Drover's guitar ebbs and flows. These songs are ideal for putting on the headphones (or putting in the ear buds) and simply tuning out the bustle of the world. "Colors Of Infinity", with some of Drover's most emotional solos, stands out as a highlight along with the very atmospheric "Illusions Of Starlight".

As you would expect, Metalusion's most progressive moments are to be found on the cover tunes originally penned by Al Di Meola, Frank Zappa, and Jean-Luc Ponty. Drover ups the metal ante on these fusionistic works, though still holds very true to the originals. The Middle Eastern themed riffs of "Egyptian Danza" lend a few worldly moments to the album, though the cover of Ponty's "Mirage" (which features Nevermore's Jeff Loomis and a huge rhythm sound from bassist Paul Yee and drummer Chris Sutherland) is by far the most enjoyable non-Drover composition. The two Zappa tracks that close out Metalusion find Drover at his most unrestrained, with some wild solos and quite a bit of funk to the riffs.

I'm not a fan of prog, instrumental albums, or guitar virtuosos. Metalusion is, therefore, an album that I shouldn't like. But Drover has skilfully put together an album that is truly a sum of all its parts, with strong keyboard contributions and a prominent rhythm section, and not just a stage on which to boast his very obvious six-string talent. Open-minded metal fans of every ilk should explore what surprises Metalusion has to offer.

Track Listing
1Ground Zero7:39
2Frozen Dream5:12
3Egyptian Danza5:58
4Colors Of Infinity5:15
5Illusions Of Starlight4:51
6Don't Let The World Pass You By6:27
9The Purple Lagoon0:58
10Filthy Habits5:06
Total Runtime50:41

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  1. 'Metalusion' is a mixed bag. Read my full review here!

  2. Sounds like something Marty Friedman would do with his solo records in the 90's. Oh wait...