Jake Dreyer: Lead/Rhythm/Acoustic Guitars
Adam Sagan: Drums/Percussion
Noah Martin: Bass Guitars
Produced/Mixed/ Engineered: JJ Crews
Assistant Engineering/Keyboards : Chaz Butler
Mastering: Maor Appelbaum
Art Work: Travis T Ernst
The metal world of 2011 is quite diverse, ranging from power metal and progressive metal to alternative metal, rap-metal (also known as rapcore), death metal, black metal, gothic metal, folk metal, doom metal and metalcore. But for all its diversity, 21st Century metal doesn’t have a lot of instrumentalists. Shredders like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are still doing their thing, but that’s hard rock rather than metal (granted, there can be a fine line between the two). Guitarist Jake Dreyer, however, is a rare example of a metal guitarist who records instrumental music, and he does plenty of shredding on his three-song EP In the Shadows of Madness (which finds the Los Angeles resident forming a power trio with bassist Noah Martin and drummer/percussionist Adam Sagan).
There are no vocals at all on this 2010 recording; the CD is strictly instrumental. And while Dreyer’s guitar playing owes something to Vai and Satriani as well as to Yngwie Malmsteen, In the Shadows of Madness is decidedly heavier. Again, Vai and Satriani are known for providing instrumental hard rock on their albums; In the Shadows of Madness, in contrast, is full-fledged metal.
The opener “Beyond the Tranquil Descent” is a moody offering that draws on both power metal and East European gypsy music. The piece isn’t folk metal and doesn’t use the traditional acoustic instruments of Eastern Europe’s folk, but it does have some of the gypsy flavor that one finds in countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. Try to envision Iron Maiden or the late Ronnie James Dio with no vocals and an East European influence, and one can get a pretty good idea of what Dreyer sounds like on “Beyond the Tranquil Descent.”
While the tempo never becomes fast on “Beyond the Tranquil Descent,” the track that follows, “Harmony of the Spheres,” is another story. “Harmony of the Spheres” becomes wildly thrashy at times; the faster parts of the tune are tailor-made for a mosh pit. “Harmony of the Spheres” is best described as instrumental thrash metal rather than instrumental power metal, but like “Beyond the Tranquil Descent,” it does have a bit of world music influence. Some of the harmonies employed on “Harmony of the Spheres” bring to mind Middle Eastern music; Dreyer is getting his points across with metal guitar rather than an oud (a traditional Arabic lute) or a saz (a string instrument used in traditional Turkish music), but the Middle Eastern influence is there nonetheless.
Parts of the manic “Drawing of the Three” are every bit as thrashy as parts of “Harmony of the Spheres,” and while the track doesn’t quite venture into death metal territory, it is clearly an example of thrash metal without vocals. What would Megadeth, Anthrax, Exodus or early Metallica (before they went alternative) sound like on an instrumental EP? “Drawing of the Three” offers some suggestions. But as balls-to-the-wall as this 2010 recording can be, none of the three tracks are without nuance. Dreyer is going for aggression and intensity on In the Shadows of Madness, but he is also going for nuance, complexity and intricacy. In the Shadows of Madness isn’t exactly easy listening, but at the same time, Dreyer does not govern by brute force alone. And one certainly cannot accuse Dreyer of lacking virtuosity; a chopsfest like In the Shadows of Madness would not have been possible if Dreyer didn’t know his way around his instrument...
--Alex Henderson (Entertainment Critic Billboard, Spin, LA Weekly)
Recorded at Boogie Tracks Recording Studios
Panama City, FL July-December 2010
Additional Recording at Hemisphere Recordings- N. Hollywood, CA
Mastered at Maor Appelbaum Mastering - California - U.S.A