March 28, 2018 Marc Rizzo – Rotation (Album Review)
Marc Rizzo is a busy man. Since his initial burst onto the music scene with New Jersey brethren Ill Niño in 2001, he has averaged one full-length release per year. After recording a self-titled EP and two solid albums with Ill Niño, the breakthrough 2001 album Confession and follow-up, 2003’s Revolution Revolución, the guitarist departed, somewhat acrimoniously, for Soulfly, ultimately being replaced by Ahrue Luster, fresh off a stint with Machine Head. Once joining Soulfly, Rizzo clicked with workaholic Max Cavalera, and recorded seven albums in the next dozen years, including the latest, Archangel, in 2015. By the way, the next Soulfly offering is scheduled for recording early next year.
Nonetheless, amidst Soulfly releases and subsequent tours, Rizzo kept close with Cavalera in the eponymous Cavalera Conspiracy, which also features Max Cavalera’s once-estranged brother Iggor on drums. Four albums have been released under that moniker, the most recent being Psychosis last year. Rizzo even managed to record and tour with his New Jersey neighbors the Misfits for a year. In whatever spare time he has left, he has released four solo records and a split with Inpsychobleedia. Fast forward to present day, Rotation is the latest of those solo efforts, set to be released on Friday, March 30rd through Combat Records – a label recently rebooted by David Ellefson, longtime bassist for Megadeth who is also a friend of and contributor to Soulfly.
Nine tracks in total, Rotation begins with “Downside Up,” a song which was teased as a single as early as 2012, and ultimately appeared on his Singles Collection split with Inpsychobleedia in 2015. It serves as a brief, powerful introduction to the album, with Rizzo mixing his Nu and Thrash Metal roots with more traditional Rock elements. “Signum” continues this trend later, and the album begins to take shape as nine diverse answers to the question of Nu Metal musicians having range beyond their typical sound.
“Hear Nor There” continues with a runaway pace and a chugging rhythm to lay the groundwork for Rizzo to shred his way around the room. The early track could be the strongest of the album, but there are plenty of other challengers in line. “Spectral Intensities,” another track lifted from the Singles Collection, is where Rizzo puts his chops on full display; coming here off the heels of “Signum,” the track quickly ascends into some impressive fretwork at a head-bobbing pace that never feels tired.
Also impressive is the track which, naturally, ties the entire album together with its effortless mix of several genres. The smooth interplay between Nu Metal, Thrash, and straight-ahead Rock are at their best here, and the solos that pepper the tempo changes serve to sear the transitions with blunt force. “Wicked Shattered” is last of the cuts making a reappearance after the Singles Collection. Of all the songs on the album, this is the one where a vocal piece seems to be ‘missing.’ This is while the guitar work is as impressive as any other track, there are a handful of places, particularly the beginning, where vocals are almost expected.
A brief respite in the middle of the album, “Ad Pila Et Spathas” changes pace to a more Latin feel, with acoustic guitars and atypical percussion complementing clean guitar work. This vein returns near the close with “Jungle Jam Slam,” an even more percussive track with louder guitar work. This is before the aptly titled “Thrash Boogie” closes the album with some clear Megadeth influences on guitar, before breaking into the classic Iron Maiden gallop… not that either is a bad thing. The guitar sound here is still uniquely Rizzo, mixing wailing progressions with deep dives into the Nu Metal and Thrash that has been playing for the last half-hour.
Overall, Rotation is an impressive collection of tracks showcasing Rizzo’s established talent for mixing subtle nuance with a bludgeoning approach. From the brash opener “Downside Up” to the runaway closer “Thrash Boogie,” and the expected but still impressive detours of “Ad Pila Et Spathas” and “Jungle Jam Slam,” Rizzo illustrates why his presence is in such high demand across the music community. That is why CrypticRock is pleased to award Rotation 4 out of 5 stars.