CD REVIEW - Monster For The Masses
It's not often that a CD will grab you immediately upon first listen, but this debut release from Afroskull did just that. Coining themselves "New Orleans/NYC Superfunk" sort of does their music justice, but the band is about much more than that. At times they inject heavy Black Sabbath/Deep Purple styled guitar riffs, Frank Zappa's brand of intricate, big band musicalities, the funky keyboard drenched soul of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, and of course the revved up horn sections of both Chicago and Tower of Power. Sound like a CD you'd want to check out? But of course!
There's some truly "monstrous" sounds here, and by that I mean BIG! In fact, the back of the CD case has a shot of everyone's favorite monster, Godzilla, wrecking some havoc and spitting out a huge fire blast on an unsuspecting city. Horns play a huge role in Afroskull's music, including trumpet, alto & tenor sax, and trombone. With the exception of the song "Curiosity", all the tunes are instrumentals, and combine hard rock and funk riffs with complex arrangements unlike any other band has done in quite some time. "Kill Whitey", "Layers", and the "Obstacle Course" are all killer songs that hit you with a rockin', big band sound, and "It" features some nasty organ playing from Earl Scioneaux and sinewy bass lines from Bill Richards to go along with the heavy guitar riffs from Joe Scatassa. The guitarists' solo here is a frenzied flurry of notes reminiscent of the late great Frank Zappa himself. "Space Chicken" is pure New Orleans styled soul, with the horn section forceful and melodic, while "Eat This" is a jazzy piece featuring the tasty tenor sax work of Jason Mingledorf , some 70's styled Fender Rhodes textures from Matt Barone, and an emotional guitar solo from Scatassa. Heavy rock riffs meets jammy rock on "Theme From Afroskull" (think Tony Iommi jamming with Greg Allman), and the CD closes with the ultra funky delight of "Beefcake", which is like early Chicago with Scatassa ripping fuzz- toned, wah-wah guitar licks much like the late guitarist Terry Kath. Add in some cool Fender Rhodes and organ and you have a perfect closing to this intense recording.
I urge all fans of instrumental fusion to check this CD out. Monster for the Masses is contemporary while still paying homage to the great jazz, hard rock, and prog bands of the 70's. Highly recommended, and the follow-up is eagerly awaited in the eyes of this reviewer.