The solo album from guitar phenom Rusty Cooley is a non-stop assault of chops, chops, and more chops. While sometimes it is hard to expect much more from these type of releases, Cooley and his bandmates have managed to work real hard at creating totally complex and heavy music here that at times is quite impressive, at others I just think "when will this song end."
The two opening cuts "Under the Influence" and "The Butcher" are blistering rockers that never let up, featuring Cooley's lightning runs and the equally impressive keyboard work of Bobby Williamson. Cooley reminds me of Chris Impelliterri at times, as he just seems to want to play as fast as humanly possible while throwing in the most complex riffs he can muster. Once "Dark Matter" hits, you can take a little breather, as on this tune the guitarist slows things down a bit for a nice little melodic piece. "Dominion" though moves right back in dizzying fashion, with speedy multi-tracked guitars, and layers of arpeggios. Pantera type rhythms and cool wah-wah licks can be found on "E.B.E.", while "Hillbilly Militia" seems like a pointless excuse to marry funk beats with shred guitar. Of the remaining tracks, only "War of the Angels" really stands out, with some neat unison trade-offs from Cooley and Williamson.
There are two bonus tracks, which are vocal versions of "Dominion" and "The Butcher", that add a different element but singer Kelly Carpenter comes across like a poor man's Mark Boals. Rusy Cooley and his band have chops to spare, but need to mix things up a bit by working on their songwriting. No doubt about it though, Cooley is a monster player, and I'm sure we will be hearing more from him down the road.