Label: Nightmare Records 2010
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
I'm a bit puzzled by this album. The artwork with the color scheme and the graphic image is that of a typical braindead "neoclassical" shredder album, the inside-sleeve photo of Steve looks like an Italian jazz-session musician, the sunburst Les Paul calls for some moody blues stuff and the virtually no-name record label suggests some underproduced stuff. Well, as you have guessed correctly I was a victim of some serious bias, the album turned out to be none of these...
It is some interesting progressive instrumental rock with decent production and musicianship even though all the instruments were played and recorded by Steve himself and he was responsible for mixing and mastering, too. Normally programmed drums bother me but the soundfonts he was using sound natural enough and the grooves are also realistic therefore I've got no complaints. His guitar sounds are also stunningly vivid and none of the keyboards sound any cheap either. What was beyond me the crowd noise between songs, now that completely sucks. The record is obviously a studio creation but between songs there's a cheering crowd noise of a massive sized crowd, probably about a 100 times as big as a crowd Steve could ever realistically hope to play for. Wot gives?!
I really liked "Siren" with its moody keyboards and cathcy melodies as well as "Headrush" which is Kitaro meets heavy metal but "Backlash" has something to give to progressive metal fans, too. Actually you can discover something in each and every track depending on your taste; this may sound as an advantage yet it might as well be a downside of the album. It's difficult to determine its actual audience, a couple of things are granted though: the ideal listener is an instrumental guitar fan, has no problem with the "keyboards over guitars" approach here and there, is open-minded to tolerate countless musical influences, is a friend of multiple tempo changes within songs, and has a uniquely long attention span. If you recognize yourself, make sure to check Steve Cichon out.