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A Helmet of Gnats - A Helmet Of Gnats II CD (album) cover


A Helmet of Gnats


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.90 | 40 ratings

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4 stars A Helmet of Gnats great name to describe this music. High energy, proficient, melodic and some fine rock. This CD never gets boring for me because there is lots of diversity among the tracks and the instrumentation as well. Chris Fox is a competent, versatile guitarist inspiring images of Dimeola, Holdsworth and Jeff Beck. Matt Bocchino is a monster on keyboards. He uses that percusive Hammond sound when playing organ reminiscent of Keith Emerson but his synth playing is more like Chic Corea and Mark Parish(Dixie Dregs). Bass player Wayne Zito has that fat bass sound that you would hear from Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius. Drummer Mark Conese drives this bus with some power ala Billy Cobham.

Track one is called Almost Babylon. Think of a a very percussive Hammond played by Keith Emerson in Return to Forever. This song smokes! Chris Fox produces some top notch solos as well as some fine sounding hard edged rock guitar sounds.

All of the tracks feature fusion based material with some rock influences thrown on top and the bottom. Sometimes the lack of vocals hurts an instrumental band but not in this case. HoG remain very melodic and interesting without the use of vocals. Occasionally a very symphonic prog melody joyfully rears up amongst the jazz. I hear the music move from Tony William's Lifetime to Yes to the Dixie Dregs fluently and expertly.

The fourth track is Crumbs and sounds like it was a track left off of Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow. Chris doesn't mention Jeff Beck as an influence but it is unmistakable. Crumbs is a very good tribute to the ol' master at a great time of his storied career. Parts of the 6th track Misfit Toy sound like Jeff Beck's Wired with Jan Hammer until the last minute and half when you hear shades of Al Dimeola in Chris Fox's guitar work.

The last track belongs to the keyboard player who's style reminds me of Chic Corea meets Tony Banks with a bit of Keith Emerson thrown in the mix also.

I am really having a hard time trying to describe this music with any kind of credibility in the statements. I use the other musicians here as a style starting point but this band takes those points and jumps so high with them.

I give this one 4.5 stars. I would give it 5 but I think there may be something better coming from these guys in the future. Keep 'em coming!

Helmet of Gnats will be at Calprog July8, 2006.

Garion81 | 4/5 |


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