When Tony Piccoli, leader of the band Mellotrön, told me that their goal is to melt the face off everyone in the crowd at their concert, I originally thought, yeah right, but then I put on the CD. After listening and having plans to go see them shortly, I thought it might be a good idea to check where the local burn unit is!
From the first moment when the massive guitar sound of this band hits you full force on the opening number "Driving Home", it becomes abundantly clear that you are in for a rock and roll hell ride! While the pounding of your skull is accomplished by their six string duo of Tony Piccoli and Scott Thompson, there is an undercurrent running through the song that is a bit of serenity amidst the rising storm. Pete Hopersberger and his keyboard playing keep your feet on the ground while your head is banging hard! This 9 minute plus opus is an opening song that takes you from massive metal moments to melodic sing-along chorus then builds to a dramatic finish that could very well leave permanent 3rd degree damage to your body parts! The different movements within the song are stunning examples of master musicians applying their craft. You, as the listener, are the one that gets the benefit though.
Tony told me that his favorite song off the disc is "With Death This Story Ends". It is hard to argue with him after giving it a try. Taking you from a slow churning piece, you are brutally smashed right between the eyes with a hellish metalcore scream section. These guys can be as fierce as anyone, yet they retain the musical ambience that makes them unique. I am reminded by another thing that Tony told me. He describes the band as Genesis if they went metal. That is a very apt description for the talents they showcase. Soaring guitar work with delicious keyboards layered throughout makes this a lush but still metal dazzler.
The other three songs on this debut disc are all just as lavish and rich with the instrumental "Swamp" leading the way with it's in your face guitar work. "Sick" follows with even more metal chaos. Then the guys take a little different path to end the disc. With a very jazz oriented intro, the band turns to the epic piece that is anything but what the title suggests. "Complacency" is as bold a statement by the band as any on the disc. Once again, the band takes you across so many genres of music in the span of about five and a half minutes, you are holding on for dear life by the time they build to the smashing climax.
This kind of music needs a very solid rhythm section. This band, with Bryan Paxton performing some amazing bass work and Pat Deleon keeping everyone on track with the diverse nature of the music on drums has everything under control.
Coming from one of the major markets in America, Mellotrön is poised to put Detroit on the progressive metal map. They have produced a work that will be sought after by anyone who really appreciates fine musical ability and great songwriting. While a trip to the burn center after one of their concerts might be a bit much, flame retardant suits upon entering just might not be a bad idea!
1. Driving Home
2. With Death This Story Ends