Featuring guitarist Chris Sterberl and drummer John Homan, Project Alcazar is an instrumental duo with incredible talent and skill. On Reasons for a Decade, they attempt to cover several classical standards (i.e., "Night on Bald Mountain" redone as "Nightmare on Bald Mountain") in a rock format. Fans of Eric Johnson or Yngwie Malmsteen will probably find this very interesting, but this may simply be too ambitious for the average listener. Reasons For A Decade features a bounty of neo-classicisms from the guitar of Chris Steberl, who is joined on this release by powerhouse drummer John Homan. Steberl draws on the riffs of huge composers such as Moussorgsky, Vivaldi and Mozart, adding variations, improvisations and, of course, modern day metallic power. Songs such as "TranceMission" feature high-speed fretwork, rapid double-bass licks (courtesy of Homan) and dazzling soloing, while "Silk N Honey" breaks from the metal/neo-classical framework to offer a standard rock arrangement rich in melodicism and impressive string work. The hard rock, Satriani-esqe "Neptune Island" is also a crowd pleaser, adding another layer of variety to this fine CD. Reasons For A Decade satisfies a guitar lover's lust for playing -- Steberl is on top of his game here.
Wrtiting for Metal-Rules.com is interesting in so many ways. Not only do I get to review awesome CDs by some of the metal worlds best bands and interview some of my favourite metal musicians I also get to hear many different styles and variations of metal that I would possibly never get the opportunity to hear normally. One of the genres that I have discovered is very much alive in metal is the guitar instrumental arena. There are hundreds of guitar players out there releasing instrumental Cds every year and many often go unnoticed by the mainstream metal fan (if there is such a thing as a mainstream metal fan). I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of the instrumental guitar release. I guess that because for me vocals are one of the most important parts of metal but every now and then an instrumental disc does come along that does catch my attention. REASONS FOR A DECADE by Project Alcazar is one such disc. I popped it on and actually enjoyed it a great deal. Project Alcazar is the brainchild of guitarist Chris Steberl. Stebel began playing guitar at age 8 and studied guitar up to the age of 15. At the age of 24, after playing in various bands Steberl formed the instrumental band Alcazar. This band gained some notoriety and opened for acts such as Dream Theater, Tony Macalpine, Greg Howe and Foghat. On this release, Project: Alcazar mixes new material with their own versions of choice cuts from classical composers such as Mozart and Vivaldi. Steberl plays all guitars, bass and keyboards on this disc and is joined by John Homan (Magnitude 9)on drums and percussion.
"Nightmare on Bald Mountain" opens the disc in fine fashion and was the first song to draw me into the guitar mastery that is Chris Steberl. This song has an evil sounding atmosphere that full of guitar and keyboard duels. Very interesting track in that I hardly miss the vocals. Therein lies Steberl's strength. He is not just a one dimensional shredder but is also a great songwriter. Up next is my favourite song on the disc, "TranceMission". Great double bass pounding song that leads me to wonder what Steberl would be like if he had a proper band? I say the out put would be impressive to say the least. "Vivaldi's Summer Concerto (3rd Mov)" showcases Steberl's love of classical music and together he and Homan give a grand showing of metalized classical art. "Sahara Skies" has a definite 70s progressive feel to it and therefore is different than anything else on the CD. Again the classical work of Mozart is featured on "Mozart's 25th Symphony in Gm (Amadeus)". Slightly different and in my opinion not quite as good as the Vivaldi piece Steberl nonetheless shows that he is a force to be reckoned with in the guitar world.
Many instrumental release fail for the pure fact that they don't focus enough on songs but instead try to dazzle the listener with the players technical mastery of their instruments. That is all well and good but it can only get you so far. Writing good songs is a much a part of being a good musician as being technically proficient on your instrument. If you want to hear some good songs and songwriting from a great guitar player then definitely check out Project: Alcazar.