Knuckles Avec Sombreros

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It seems like it would be impossible for instrumental music to be tongue in cheek, and one particularly wouldn't expect overt humor from a speed metal trio, but the second album by Colorado instrumental-metal trio (two lead guitarists and a drummer, plus various fill-in bassists) Gashead is a hoot and a half. From the nonsensical trilingual title and goofball cover art to an opening track, "Benediction," inspired by the immortal "Space Madness" episode of Ren and Stimpy, this is a group that doesn't take itself too seriously. And since self-seriousness has always been the doom of instrumental metal, that means that these 11 concise showcases for Mike Lopez and Derek Maness' exceedingly nimble "lotsa notes, really fast" guitars and Nate Scofield's "lotsa tom-tom hits, really really fast" drumming come across with casual mastery, as if they're just three guys showing off for their buddies. An album-closing cover of Def Leppard's early instrumental showcase "Switch 625" is a nice touch as well.

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