Impellitteri

Pedal to the Metal

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Like the non-evil twin of Yngwie Malmsteen, veteran neo-classical six-string magician Chris Impellitteri is one of those rare guitar heroes capable of restraint when he sets his mind to it -- no mean feat in a category virtually defined by noodling excess. Indeed, his attention to actual songcraft, as opposed to the flurry of notes contained in that small portion of music called the solo, is refreshing and inspiring, and leave one pining for the good old days of Gary Moore's metallic period, or even Malmsteen himself before he ran out of song ideas. Anyway, as hinted at in the title, Pedal to the Metal finds Impellitteri's eponymous band tackling numerous heavy metal subgenres -- not just his neo-classical specialty, of which the only clear examples here are the power metal-leaning "The Writing on the Wall" and the excellent "Destruction," which is an obvious knock-off of Malmsteen's "I'll See the Light Tonight," but a good one, at that! Beyond these, we have the speedy, trad-metal musicality of opening triplets "The Iceman Cometh," "The Kingdom of Titus (Tribute)" (featuring a distinct In Flames vibe), and "Dance With the Devil," followed by the groove-rounded alt metal of "Hurricane" (with low-end vocals reminiscent of Alice in Chains) and "Crushing Daze" (which splices a Pantera-like death metal grind with a surprisingly sing-song chorus). "Judgement Day" makes a few more references to classic heavy metal (not least with a recurring fret-burning lick paying tribute to Randy Rhoads) before Impellitteri deliver the dual shocks of "Punk" (a silly bit of comedy metal recalling old-school Anthrax or Suicidal Tendencies at their most irreverent) and "Propaganda Mind," which curiously seems to rewrite Disturbed's nu-metal smash "The Sickness." In the end, older metalheads with a strong knowledge of genre history will probably find this album a bit too obviously derivative from other sources, but younger listeners carrying no baggage may think it brilliant for its variety of scope. [First released in Japan in 2004, Impellitteri's Pedal to the Metal was eventually given an American issue through Steamhammer/SPV the following year -- only completely resequenced and minus the bonus track "Stay Tonight."]

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