No. 35

July 01, 2016

This month I was given the privilege of reviewing a new release from Baltimore guitarist Rich Davis who is promoting his first solo project. Davis has been a part of the Baltimore metal scene for many years and is known to many as guitarist for past bands such as Mystic Force and Shift, touring with many great bands from Avenged Sevenfold to Pantera. He was guitarist, recording on three Mystic Force albums : Eternal Quest, A Step Beyond, and Man vs. Machine, as well as two Shift albums : Creating a Monster and Lead, Judge, and Jury. Davis claimed it was time to slow down and record a solo album which he has taken on the role of playing all the parts, including vocalist, as well as recording, mixing, and mastering. For this solo project Davis releases each song as a single, as if its own album, and while I understand the reasoning for this, I might point out that this is kind of a pain for the reviewer. I received an envelope printed with the graphic logo for "Parental Advisory Explicit Content". It was eye catching and should be praised for being something that would stand out in a pile of many press kit packages. Inside, however, were individual rememption cards for each song through CDBaby that required logging in for each song, entering a different 12-digit code for each song, and individually downloading as a MP3 file. Each song also had an additional artwork JPG file to be downloaded, essentially an album cover, which made it impossible to know the order of the songs or if there was a main album cover for the project or not. In all it took me about 25 minutes to login and download the material. Had this not been for a review handed to me by the executive editor of the magazine and just an unsoliticed package I received among many, I might otherwise have tossed it aside due to the time consumption of dealing with 10 singles attempting to comprise an album of material. I'm just saying that in seeking reviews or label interest, a physical or digital press kit would be preferable and better served. In his defense, posts on his Facebook page suggest he is still recording more songs for this project so maybe it is yet to be finished and will eventually be one complete album to promote.

Being familiar with some of Davis' work with Mystic Force and Shift I was expecting a straight forward metal album but was acually surprised his solo material was much more experimental. There was sequencing, it was industrial sounding, it reminded me of Ministry at times, it reminded me of Slipknot at times, the guitar solos were on fire and the vocals even at times touched a style of black metal. Overall I was pleasnatly surprised at this solo project from Rich Davis which ultimately proves his diversity and shows off his talent. Among my favorites were "Alpha Waves", an instrumental with acoustic guitar laden parts that remind me of the acoustics from Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime. The song then launches into heavy riff guitars with killer blazing solos by Davis setting the landscape for this project. "Believer" - had an industrial feel and gave me the first exposure to Davis' vocals which were distorted making this song remind me of something between Ministry with slight touches of something that one might relate to early British pop. "Cancer" starts with a narrative warning "Due to some violent content, parental discretion is advised." Then it crushes with some blast beats and strange heavy guitar riffs like something Slipknot would do. The vocals continue on a distorted path complimenting the Slipknot feel with Davis adding in some amazing scaling guitar solos. "Worlds At War" has heavy rifing and drumming in Slipknot fashion to narrations of War of the Worlds blended with Davis soloing in attack mode. "Never Say Die" had more great solo work by Davis that one can't help but praise. It reminded me at times of something that would be done by Satriani or Petrucci . "Into The Unknown" starts as an acoustic instrumental with bright earthy lead guitars with plenty of delay then leads into a heavy ass riff to back more of Davis' blazing soloing. I enjoyed the dynamics of this song and the very interesting off-beat progressive sounding drum part in the middle."Dr. Jekyll" has a great intro to this song with layering leading up to a most memorable repetitive guitar riff. Interestingly Davis' vocals on this song almost reach a black metal style. "Malcontent" and "Cancer" are appearing as singles on Terrorizer Magazine's Ear Candy Compilation CD.

Baltimore guitarist Rich Davis' New Project

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