In the last year I can count about half a dozen solo records that have come out from high profile musicians in the metal world. There seem to be two types; one being an instrumental version of that particular musician’s full time band and the second being a totally different sound and style that is focused purely on the solo musician’s skills. The second record being the harder to come by of the two, given EEPS and Jeff Hughell’s record Chaos Labyrinth are the only two that really fit this profile. Marco Minnemann is best known for being an absolute monster behind a drum kit. If you just glance at his resume of bands he’s worked with, it should become pretty clear how impressive and talented this guy actually is. You see this massive spectrum of works that go from The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, and The Buddy Rich Big Band to legendary metal bands such as Necrophagist and Kreator. As if that isn’t crazy enough, he not only plays every instrument on the solo record, but he mixed and produced it himself as well. This guy is the definition of being a Jack of all trades, except he’s the master of all!
Having had the pleasure to have seen Marco live with The Aristocrats, which is an experience I implore you to never pass up ever, I could totally picture him as he’s playing all this in the studio with the biggest grin plastered across his face. This man is such a pleasure to watch play drums, I’d totally pay for a solo gig of him just improving a whole set, with the one condition being he brought the squeaky pig toy along, as previously seen live with the Aristocrats. This record has a very relaxed vibe to it and is really easy to listen to. Its full of the goofiest shit ever and it works so well. Even the track titles are a good indication as to how goofy and fun this record is, with tracks like, Cheap As Fuck and Awesome As Hell, Sushi Cat Doll, and my personal favorite, Douche. On the list of impressive things about this album is how seamlessly it goes from those goofy, fun songs like Douche, where the intro is him chanting douche being the drums and synth! It’s actually pretty brilliant how he can chant “douche” half the track and still find a way to make you feel bad about any drum skills you may possess. On the flip side you get these awesome, hyper-progressive tracks along the lines of Satriani and The Aristocrat’s type sound on tracks like the title track, EEPS or Painter. As far as the guitar work goes, you can tell he’s spent some time around Guthrie Govan. You get all weird, jazzy type sounding licks, strange dissonant sounding guitars, and then something that sounds like Marco just playing with a bunch of effects pedals, which somehow works really well into it all. The guitar work is relatively simple, which isn’t a big surprise or concern really. All the other instruments used here, while done very well, are just frames for the real attraction here, the drums.
Just taking these songs at face value, you’re met with these progressive, fluffy tracks that give you that warm, calming, fuzzy feeling in your belly. Diving down just a little deeper, you can get a full appreciation of how unbelievably skilled Marco is. The drum work is beyond ridiculous in the best ways and every instrument seems to find a way to fill in the gaps around the drums while still making the drum work the focal point of it all. I don’t get how he does any of this, but I’m so glad I get to listen to it. This record is the perfect embodiment of the guy I met at NAMM Jam 2014, who backstage took his jacket up over his head and started screeching while flapping his arms. Not only was his pterodactyl impression dead on, but he was one of the most genuinely awesome people I’d had the immense pleasure to shake hands with. I know it’s vastly different than the metal you’re used to hearing, but I promise this is a record worth listening too. I am counting the days until I get another opportunity to see him live again.