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Harris, Michael: Words Collide

I'm not really sure whether Words Collide, the latest (and first non-instrumental) solo CD from American guitarist Michael Harris, really qualifies as a progressive-metal release. Sure, it's loaded with chunky riffs and unconventional arrangements, and there are plenty of so-called "progressive" movements throughout this 13-song, hour-long disc. But Harris covers so many styles here, seldom sticking to one long enough to sustain momentum (or, in some cases, melody). The title track, for example, segues from Kings'X-like instrumentation to vocals inspired by Rage Against the Machine. Meanwhile, "Tears Roll Down" is a modern alernative rocker on which Harris sounds vaguely like Faith No More's Mike Patton, and "Mr. Strange" opens with the infectious strumming of an acoustic guitar that recalls Pain of Salvation or Enchant before heading in a psychedlic-pop direction. And the closing eight-part epic "Battle Fatigue," which chronicles a war veteran's battles with his own demons, covers so much ground that you may forget everything is part of one song.

While Harris' gruff, nasally and occasionally shaky voice may be an acquired taste, his guitar playing commands respect. There's a reason the man has recorded four instrumental albums, and that's why the blazing fusion of "Prosthetic Brain," the only full-blown instrumental on Words Collide, is so memorable. In fact, the argument could be made that Words Collide would have been just as interesting (or perhaps even more interesting) had Harris skipped the lyrics altogether. In the liner notes, Harris who composed, produced and played everything you hear here (except the drums) calls Words Collide "probably the most time-consuming and difficult" record he's ever made. I believe it. And I'm slowly beginning to appreciate the album more each time I listen to it, although that's not always easy.

Track Listing:
1) Shockestra (1:01)
2) Wash My Soul Away (4:32)
3) Mask of Deception (4:45)
4) Myopia (4:14)
5) Words Collide (5:07)
6) Tears Roll Down (4:52)
7) Mr. Strange (4:01)
8) Prosthetic Brain (5:04)
9) Into the Spiral Rain (3:32)
10) Mandy Slang (4:36)
11) Incarcerated (3:13)
12) The Cozmic Desert (3:52)
13) Battle Fatigue (11:04)
Total Time: 59:58

Added: March 31st 2004
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: IMF Records
Hits: 2901
Language: english

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