Bart D. : The Aristocrats have become unusually well-known and popular for an instrumental trio. This is caused by the undeniable chemistry between Bryan Beller, Guthrie Govan and Marco Minnemann: no one who sees and hears them can get around that. Their new album again has hilarious artwork, but what about the music? Normally I prefer to keep things short and summarize, but this time I ended up mentioning every song and stuffing in references, as it's hard to do anything else.
When opening track 'Stupid 7' begins with a nice guitar line and after a few seconds the drums and bass fill it up to full effect, one can't help but think that, yes, this is a perfect display of what a power trio can realize. Immediately I get reminded of one of my favourite instrumental groups, Cosmosquad. Which isn't that strange, since they share the instrumentation and also play a form of rock-fusion. Moments later, still in the same track, things become thrash-meets-Tribal Tech, with Guthrie Govan tipping his hat to Scott Henderson while Marco Minnemann puts down a heavy groove together with Bryan Beller.
'Jack's Back' isn't as much a hypnotizing composition as it is a good fun listen thanks to the room left open for every musician and especially Minnemann to go wild. Next up is 'Texas Crazypants', which rolls and thunders all over you with an unbelievable amount of energy and drive. Back to mid-tempo with 'ZZ Top', which doesn't only reference to a band via the song's title: find all the musical similarities! 'Pig's Day Off' gives us some beautiful room to catch our breath, though the Zappa-esque track has enough quirks to keep you on the edge of your seat. But most of all, there is a lot of soulful playing all around. The song includes a happy end for all lovers of heavy music.
In 'Smuggler's Corridor', we get warped to yet another era of instrumental band music. The Shadows are in the spotlights, including the Marvin-esque guitar style, chord-shaping bass lines and happy beat. 'Pressure Relief' is a dynamic piece with a veiled-like quality, showing yet another side of the band. In 'The Kentucky Meat Shower' Govan takes his mates on a ride through his obsession with lightning fast country licks. Fortunately it also includes some breathing space, including a nice bass solo - before the whole thing explodes into meaty rock extravaganza.
'Through The Flower' explores instrumental ballad-with-balls terrain like only a good instrumental trio can - and summons Eric Johnson's trio while at it. The outro builds up with multiple guitar overdubs - which makes we wonder: the tradition of layering guitars has become a convention, but what about the layering of drums? I would love to hear what Marco Minnemann can do with that idea on a song like this!
And that gets us to the end of the record. But since we're absolutely not tired of it despite the sheer amount of notes and impressions, we push play again. It's a cliché, but here we go again: this is by far their best record yet!