Thursday, January 02, 2014

Mike Kerr-The Fire


We're going to re-wind the clock a bit with this one folks. As you can see it's from "way back" in 2012 (June of 2012 to be exact) and it's the debut-release (and so far only release) from guitarist/composer Mike Kerr. Who you may be asking is Mike Kerr? Good question my friend and thank you for your participation! Mike Kerr is a Brazilian guitarist who has been calling the US his home since 2001. According to his official(?) website he "had access to the knowledge of the great masters of guitar such as Joe Stump, one of the fastest guitarists in the World according to Guitar Player magazine and professor at Berklee College of Music, and Arlen Roth, the famous blues guitarist, who shared the stage with Mike Kerr in Edgartown on the summer of 2009." Well, there you go. Oh, and he's also recognized by major companies such as Voodoo Amps, D’addario, Planet Waves, Graphtech, Dimarzio, Floyd Upgrades, Road Rage, Wampler, Rjm, Eventide and Graphtech. All of which is fine and dandy (as mid-day brandy) I hear you saying but what about "The Fire"? Instrumental rock is the name of this game my friends. Yes, instrumental rock. Funny enough this is actually my second review of an instrumental recording this week! The previous one, "Pictures Of A Broken Heart", was from guitarist Kosta Vreto (Wardrum, Horizon's End, Vavel, Jade Star) and showcased some pretty sweet instrumental metal. In that regard they are a bit different. You know, metal verses rock* and what not. Still, I've gone months without having one instrumental recording cross my desk and here I am this week covering two! Crazy stuff. Anyway, Mike, who worked with producer/guitarist Jota Vox on "The Fire", is backed here by a solid group of musicians that features the lovely Kumari Miker on bass, guitarist Ven Thangaraj (sporting a wicked Havok t-shirt in his Metal Archives profile pic!) and drummer Joe Bertola. Guests include the likes of Joe Stomp, Eduardo Ardanuy (who plays in a band called Dr. Sin), Kristen Capolino and guitarist/producer Jota Vox himself. As far as this being Mike's debut album you'd be hard pressed to guess that given the fantastic job done by all involved. From the musicians who backed up Mike to this album's production it's all stellar. "The Fire", which runs over an hour in length(!), sounds great and the heavy rock on display here is top-notch. While I'd hesitate to call this one a heavy metal or shred release like the Metal Archives does it still offers plenty of "crunch" and the lead solos, well, let's just say that in regards to everyone involved in said department they are freakin' furious! For those who love emotional playing where it feels as if the guitarist is pulling out his or her own heart and putting it on display with their performance then this is one album that you need to hear! Instead of just going off half-cocked and playing the kind of over-the-top solos that are impressive but meaningless Mike plays with passion and that comes across crystal clear with "The Fire". That's not to say that his playing is any less impressive. There's an obvious reason he is recognized by all kinds of major companies. The guy can play. I mean, he can seriously play! As in "Light up the sky!" play. All of which makes "The Fire" that much more enjoyable! While I would love to see what he could do with a talented lead vocalist in place I do understand the joy that a lot of these great guitarists get from just playing their music as is. This is another recording that I'll be returning to soon enough trust me!

*The more I listen to this one the more it feels like a hard rock release or maybe even a hybrid of rock, hard rock and some heavy metal. Whatever you personally choose to call it though it's still a cool release and one that keeps the listener engaged and interested!

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