Pedal To The Metal
10/12/2004 - Review by: Eric Compton
Impellitteri - Pedal To The Metal 2004 Victor Entertainment reviewed by: EC
"Pedal To The Metal" is a completely different beast than the group's last record. With "System X", the band took a step back, glancing into the backstreets of 80s guitar rock, much on the same pattern as the group's early material. This new record is in the same vein as "Crunch", with this effort concentrating on refabricating the current metal trends, molding them into something innovative and spectacular. "Crunch" rejuvenated me and gave me a new direction for aggressive music, a direction that incorporated huge leads, positive songwriting, and mammoth grooves, steering away from the heavy, death metal scene but at the same time staying heavy enough to compete with those types of bands. With "Pedal To The Metal", Chris takes a long look at current metal acts such as Killswitch Engage, Lamb Of God, and Slipknot for inspiration, but refusing to contain himself to that particular set of boundaries. Impellitteri takes those ideas and runs to higher ground, offering up a whole new take on the current state of affairs. Chris uses huge stomp riffs effectively here, mixing and matching grooves and leads to the emotions of the songwriting, never keeping one song at the same speed or pattern, always mixing it up and keeping things interesting.
Curtis Skelton is indeed a rare find, with his vocal ability ranging from European influences to American stylings. Skelton can belt out 80s vocal lines in much the same way as former Impellitteri vocalist Rob Rock. He can also use his low voice to rumble like Phil Anselmo, or even rap like Fred Durst. At times I find his voice a nice fit for bands like Shadows Fall, and other times he fits the mold of bands like Stratovarius with his melodic, operatic delivery. The guy is just unbelievable, and truly a unique find for Chris. His voice really makes this album truly special, and his job certainly isn't easy, picking up all the vibes Chris is dishing out here. He does a wonderful job fitting in on this record, and "Pedal To The Metal" is very effective with him at the helm.
"The Writings On The Wall" and "Dance With The Devil" are very European to these ears, using effective keyboards and neo-classical elements to stay on par with bands like Symphony-X and Blind Guardian. The chorus parts are written with legendary bands like Queen and Styx in mind, and Chris does a great job keeping up a real power metal feel to these cuts. "The Iceman Cometh" and "Hurricane" are very modern, groovy styled songs, with the band's ears clearly on groups like Black Label Society. "Destruction" is taken right out of the 80s, with a huge "guitar rock" feel to the song that rivals bands like Dokken in their prime. The same can be said for the slow moving "Stay Tonight", with traditional Impellitteri the core ingredient there. My favorite song of the album is "The Fall Of Titus (American Metal Vs Swedish Metal), and just like the song title states, Chris uses two distinct playing styles for the track. One is the Swedish approach, running through In Flames territory, and the other is the American style, which incorporates everything from thrash to Linkin Park (listen to the keys). I'm not a huge nu-metal fan, but if Impellitteri is playing it, then it sounds light years better than the current roster we have.
Again, much the same way that "Crunch" was revolutionary in 2002, "Pedal To The Metal" is mandatory for 2004. This is just intelligent, well played material that really enhances the current metal scene that we are seeing. Skelton is the perfect lead for the job, Chris still has the magical gift of shredding, and the whole band is focused and determined to do something innovative and different. This album is a different breed of metal, a different take on what we have heard thus far. Impellitteri are thinking man's metal through and through, and to these ears, those ingredients are pure listening power. Easily one of the best records of 2004, and I will be interested to see what comes of this. If they can land a domestic deal, this type of album just might be what the execs are searching for.
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