Iain Ashley Hersey - The Holy Grail
Iain Hersey, born in New England (USA), as most guitarists who aren't called Steve Vai, Joe Satriani or Yngwie Malmsteen are by far less known than aforementioned big names. I don't know whether you will lament it or not, but the fans of Deep Purple and Rainbow can feel at home listening to this stuff.
Mr. Hersey isn't a guitarist/bassist who would emphasize his virtuosic skills. There is somewhere hidden his university degree of a prestigious Berklee College of Music (Boston), but Iain has never boasted about it excessively. There he studied jazz music, however his music hasn't jazzy traits, so probably that genre was only a kind of "excercise sack" needed to improve technical skills. An American can make us think of Mr. Malmsteen in some respect. He avoids using so-called technological novelties being directed by a rule "the older equipment, the better stuff". His musical temple are Fender Stratocaster and the Marshalls.
Iain likes to collaborate with well- and less-known musicians on his solo albums. It was the same on the debut "Fallen Angel" (Frontiers Records, 2000) where he had gathered the likes of Dante Marchi, Jeremy Yeremian, Jimmy Griego (Toto), Marvin Sparling, Mike Stone (Queensryche), Paul Shortino and a few other artists who also appeared on "The Holy Grail". Do I have to dwell on such big names like Graham Bonnet (vocals; Alcatrazz, Rainbow, Malmsteen, MSG), Carsten Schulz (vocals; Domain, Evidence One), Dave Sutton (bass guitar; Tears For Fears), Philip Wolfe (keys; Impellitteri) or Jim Austin (keys; Toto, Jefferson Starship)? Of course, it is the question aimed to the fans of classic hard rock. Aforesaid names speak for themselves, so they needn't be advertised.
I think that Zeppelin-esque guitars and blues rock mood in "Blood of Kings" straighten out all. Here we deal with "purplish-rainbowish" music. I hope you get the point, Dear Readers. Then, here are also Lord-esque "maneuvers" and Hendrix-esque atmosphere, so you should know what I mean. Mr. Hersey doesn't pose to be perceived as a guitar maestro, but he faithfully cultivates a hard rock tradition. His guitarmanship is best audible in "Lost & Foolish" and, needless to write, in Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata in D Minor". This composition in American's performance is slow enough and played with no pathos that is the element typical of neoclassical kind of hard rock. Such a music genre needs the right singers who would fit to the music. I have no reservations to Bonnet's vocal skills, however I think that Carsten Schulz has coped with his parts much better. My very favourite track is "Blink of an Eye", and I wish Randy Williams had sang on more tracks than only one. He uses a bit vibrato and "lead" the melodic line with ease. Mr. Williams is by far the best singer on "The Holy Grail". At the end of 70-minute disc, Mr. Hersey administers us a relaxing instrumental composition "Auf Wiedersehen". It is as well one of my top number on the release.
It looks like Mr. Hersey, next to Nikolo Kotzev, is an eulogist of "purplish-rainbowish" tradition. In my opinion, "The Holy Grail" lacks a vigour that is characteristic of Bulgarian's works. I think that Iain is infatuated with a blues feeling too much, so it can smother the vitality of tracks.
What's the final result? As I have mentioned - a salmagundi of Deep Purple, Rainbow and Led Zeppelin. The credit for the sound quality goes also to Pat Regan who produced the albums of first two mentioned bands as well. I do appreciate the classic hard rock, since I think it is engrossing and sincere music. I can only notice that aforesaid bands played in more diverse way, so some of you can feel a little monotony making the listening much more difficult for an unpractised hearer. Anyway, it's a good hard rock work... the seventies vintage, haha.