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Album Review

Guitarist Alex Skolnick is best known for his work with Bay Area metal band Testament, but he also plays classical-influenced hard rock with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and was a member of prog metal group Savatage for a while. The Alex Skolnick Trio sounds nothing like any of these groups; it's a straight-up jazz trio that started out recording versions of hard rock and metal songs, but has written more and more original material on each release. This disc, the trio's first for the jazz label Palmetto, features only one cover — Metallica's "Fade to Black." The other tunes run a fairly wide gamut, from the almost Soundgarden-ish blues-rock groove of "Bollywood Jam" to the Pat Metheny-ish "Song of the Open Road." The title track is a slow ballad with heavy-footed, almost rock drumming, while the Metallica cover, which features overdubbed guitars, ironically turns out to be more of a showcase for bassist Nathan Peck than Skolnick himself. The bassist radically expands the song's chordal parameters, thrumming along beneath the repetitive guitar figures and making Metallica swing. Other tracks explore jittery funk ("99/09") or atmospheric prog-fusion reminiscent of Mahavishnu Orchestra ("Path of Least Resistance"), and the disc ends with a "Club Remix" of "Bollywood Jam" that's interesting, but not a patch on the original. The Alex Skolnick Trio has gradually grown from an interesting novelty to a thoroughly respectable jazz-funk-rock unit, one that may yet allow its leader to be reviewed or interviewed without the words "heavy metal" appearing anywhere in the copy.

Customer Reviews

They've done it again!

These guys keep finding ways of bringing something new to your ears and elevating their play with each release. Love it all, but especially Bollywood Jam, Song of the Open Road and the title track. Nice treatment of Fade to Black, too.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Although he first came to the attention of guitar fans worldwide as a member of thrash metallists Testament, Alex Skolnick has gone on to put his metal days largely behind him in favor of his true love: jazz fusion. Born in 1968 in Berkeley, California, Skolnick's interest in rock music and guitar came about due to his (and a zillion other youths at the time) admiration of glam metallists Kiss. By his late teens, Skolnick was taking lessons from a then-unknown Joe Satriani, before signing on with...
Full Bio
Veritas, Alex Skolnick Trio
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