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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Various Artists

Drum Nation Volume 3

Review by Gary Hill

With the latest entry in the Drum Nation series Magna Carta has changed the rules. First, this disc is not progressive rock, by any means. It’s more nu-metal than anything else. That’s definitely a new step for the label. Secondly, while the other discs in the series included tracks culled from other releases in this case the drummers created new tracks specifically for this compilation. It’s a dark and heavy tribute to percussion. It’s actually pretty consistent in terms of quality with no tracks that fall well below the level of the rest. This instrumental album certainly won’t be for everyone, but it is strong.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Jordan Mancino - Ahhh...The Fade Out
This one stomps in with a frantic new metal texture. The guitar lines feel like they are being ripped from the flesh of silence and pulled across the fabric of space. It has a bit of a fusion texture to it, but definitely with nu-metal sounds pervading. This turns mysterious and more meaty later. As one might guess this is a percussion work out. Mancino is best known as the drummer for As I Lay Dying.

Chris Adler - The Near Dominance of 4 Against 5
Lamb of God’s drummer Chris Adler provides the next cut. Acoustic guitar with neo-classical leanings starts this off. As it moves onward, though, the metal sounds emerge over the top of this, threatening to over take. Eventually those metallic elements do take control of the piece and the music becomes a frantic heavy metal excursion. The drum work on this track reminds me at times of Neil Peart’s sticksmanship in Rush – and that’s a major compliment. The pretty acoustic segment gets a return engagement later, and there is some nice fusion soloing over the top of it, but the metal comes back again in the process.

Jeremy Colson – Fluoxetine
This time the drummer in question is Steve Vai’s sticksman. He leads it off unaccompanied. Then a rhythmic pattern that feels like keys enters to provide some drama. Eventually this becomes a true fusion sound, but rather rapidly turns to the frantic metal that makes up the bulk of the sound of the CD. It wanders back into more fusion-like territory later, too. This one is among the most dynamic on the disc and covers a lot of musical territory.

Justin Foley – Up And Atom
Justin Foley (best known for his work in Killswitch Engage) brings us “Up and Atom.” This one comes in more melodic than a lot of the other material with a more classic metal approach. The drumming is definitely “in your face” on this one, but there are a lot of intriguing musical textures here, as well. Particularly when it drops back to the more mellow motif with the Latin flavor. This gives way to an extended percussion solo segment. I have to say I’m not a big fan of drum solos, but this one has a killer groove. This is another extremely dynamic track, and it moves into a killer tasty mellow fusion guitar solo mode. There is even what sounds like vibraphone on show here. How’s that for a touch of class? This is one of my favorites on the CD. There are some extremely heavy metal movements later in the track, too, though. Overall this is an exceptionally interesting work out.

Jason Bittner – Instr.
This is a swirling instrumental jam. While it’s not very dynamic, it is one of the strongest pieces on the disc. Bitner’s main work is with the band Shadows Fall.

Kenneth Schalk – Out Of Nowhere
This is a full on fusion treatment and as such is a nice change of pace and one of the strongest cuts on the disc. It wanders into space to eventually end.
Joe Nunez – Grounded
Soulfly’s drummer brings this frantically fast thrasher. This moves through a number of varied segments and becomes tribal in texture later. There is also a cool Sabbath like segment. This one is another of the highlights of the CD.

Tom Taitano - When The Scales Fell
This is a frantic and dissonant crunchfest. It’s cool, a bit fusion like, but also very heavy. There is a fairly long drum solo in the midst of this.

Chris Pennie - YMCA or TCBY
Chris Pennie’s “regular” band is Dillinger Escape Plan. Mysterious keyboard textures begin this. This has a very ambient texture to it. This one is electronic and strange, but makes for a nice change from some of the rest of the material. It turns into a cool techno meets fusion oriented jam later on. This is quite cool as that part takes over. It definitely turns back into the strangeness territory later, though.

Derek Roddy – Swirling Patterns
This one powers in with a heavy nu-metal texture. The drums simply explode outward tearing up the territory. This one is frantic and uber-heavy. It turns to a mysterious sort of dramatic texture later that is quite intriguing and more melodic. This is another of my favorites on the disc.

Raanen Bozzio – Impulse
This one opens with all sorts of percussion. In fact the first minute or so is strictly percussion soloing. It pounds in with Sabbath like metallic fury in intriguing patterns later, though. This is a dynamic piece with a number of intriguing changes and musical patterns. It’s another highlight of the CD.

Michael Justice – Weak Would
The main man here is Unearth’s drummer. The cut is extremely heavy and bombastic. It’s not one of my favorites, but it definitely pounds away. It drops to an odd scat and percussion section later and then hints of sound come across in a spacey piece of atmospheric weirdness.

 
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