Release Date: August 22, 2016
Cris Martin was the guitarist in an eighties band called from the UK called Thunderstick (which I have never heard of….and that’s saying something!) and it appears he hasn’t done much musically since. This is his debut solo album and it also features Thunderstick drummer Barry Graham Purkis as well as Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden, Wolfsbane, etc.) on three songs. Despite the dated looking cover, Cris seemed like a really cool guy via email so I agreed to give it a listen.
I’m so glad I got to check this one out! The first song, “Witches Tower,” features Blaze Bayley and is, in all honesty, not very good. The album quickly recovers though with a series of instrumentals that are almost mesmerizing. “Overrun” has a really bright feel that is Pop Rock-ish but the talking guitars are fantastic and it immediately draws you in. It’s one of my favorite tunes on the album and establishes that Cris Martin is no fool when it comes to the guitar! “Harmonic Crunch” and “Metal Go Round” are as advertised with a driving, Heavy Metal feel that moves along behind explosive lead guitar work. The former features a great mid-section (but quick) that gets down and dirty at just the right time. The bluesy “The Twilight Years” is another favorite moment and reminds me of some of George Lynch’s solo work and the old Badlands stuff.
The other two songs with Blaze Bayley singing are much better than “Witches Tower.” “Call of the Wild” is a backyard blues, acoustic led tune that feels like a Louisiana swamp party. Bayley’s vocals here are probably the best I have ever heard from him, making me wonder if he should take a crack at another style of music. It’s also catchy as hell! “Heretic” is a paint-by-numbers Eighties Metal tune but it sounds great and Bayley’s vocals help it soar and will certainly remind people of why Iron Maiden once thought he was the right dude for the job.
Overall, this album has a super-cheesy cover and starts out on the wrong foot, but it’s worth it once you really dig in. Martin’s playing is sensational, it’s a bit flashy but tremendously song-oriented and super easy to get deep into. If you are a fan of instrumental albums then there is a lot here for you to love. I’ll be doing some checking into Thunderstick as well as, if it’s anything like this, then I have certainly missed out!
Reviewed by mark1340