August 27, 2018 Monte Pittman – Between The Space & Better Or Worse (Album Review)
Fans love it when their favorite artist releases a new album: all it takes is one awesome song to satisfy a music lover’s hunger for killer tunes. So, if your favorite artist/band released one new kicking album, you would absolutely feel like a kid on Christmas morning if that artist/band released not one but two noteworthy new albums on the same date, right? That in mind, fans of Metal Guitarist/Singer-Songwriter Monte Pittman, get ready to unstring those holiday lights a few months early: on Friday, August 31, 2018, the cunning Monte Pittman dares to release two brand-new albums, the electric Between the Space and the acoustic Better or Worse, on Metal Blade Records.
An accomplished musician, Pittman’s high influences sparked his fire as he absorbed the music of an array of artists ranging from the songwriting niche of The Beach Boys and Radiohead to the sharpness of Metal from maestros like Metallica and Steve Vai. For those unfamiliar with Pittman’s library of work, from 2000-2009, Pittman donned the axe, shredding for Thrash/Groove Metal veterans Prong. Though primarily a Metal axeman, Pittman has collaborated alongside artists from a variety of genres for years. In fact, Metal fans may be surprised to know Pittman has actually been the longtime guitarist of the “Material Girl” herself, Madonna; a vital component of her band since 2001. As a solo performer, Pittman is no amateur, as this skilled player has a catalog all his own, releasing a number of studio albums beginning with The Deepest Dark in 2009 on through Inverted Grasp of Balance in 2016.
Creatively, on both Between the Space and Better or Worse, Pittman commands his position as a creative talent, writing every lyric, playing every instrument, recording, and mixing every sound. Crediting another artist, Aaron Lea brought the imaginative cover art to life for both releases in a classic visual.
Focusing on the new electric LP, Between the Space, on each track, Pittman delivers to the listener a novel of varying melodies diligently stitched together. Getting into it, Between The Space is kicked into gear by the raunchy stomp of “Evidence,” vocally flavoring the likes of Black Sabbath. After a tasty, dark toned start, “Ominous/Hope” brings reminiscence of 90’s Alternative Metal stalwarts Helmet, as Pittman’s brazen vocal harmony collides with his signature bouncy groove and melodic soloing. For “Changing of the Guard,” an electric build-up leads to a galloping melody of marching Metal before the banging riffs and bent strings of “Between The Space.”
Captivating, Pittman delves into a cosmic shift on “Once Upon A Time,” opening in slow, dreamy guitar, flowing into a louder, more poignant chorus, as the melody and song structure suitably fit Pittman’s voice. Picking it back up, “Equal Temperament” comes looking for a fight via a serial main hook to which all Metal fans can indulge. On “Reverse Magnetism,” Pittman gets more aggressive and forceful on fighting drum beats and thunderous guitar solos. To close out Between The Space, Pittman’s “Beguiling” embodies a hypnotizing and sinister, somber opening melody, a few steps lower than the one and only Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary of a Madman,” into a vigilant story of lost trust.
Changing gears into Pittman’s new acoustic album, Better or Worse is a true-to-life acoustic collection, embodying a underlying electric feel. The theme of the album represents both a connection and a disconnect from something. Challenging the scope of acoustic guitar, “Depth Perception” opens the LP, introducing the listener to a spectrum of impressive guitar soloing not typically found on acoustic tracks. As “Have Faith” chases a reason to believe, “Turning Retrograde” reverses in time, seeing Pittman capture a real singer-songwriter tone, in a simpler style of writing which some fans of the guitarist may not expect.
On the same note, amongst somber tones, “Better or Worse” pushes the emotional boundaries, possessing a lyrical candor as Pittman expresses decisions of giving up. The tale of the two prior tracks continues with “The Right Words,” simple chords highlighted by carefully placed nuances. Then, “Whose Side Are You On?” talks about choices and choosing the right path because, especially in our present time, someone is always listening. As the “Torchbearer,” Pittman reveals the album’s first electric-acoustic waves, before the closer, “Witch Trials,” casts a blatantly black, melodic aura to conclude Better or Worse. All this in mind, the acoustic setting of Better Or Worse unveils a deeper edge to Pittman’s voice, giving the listener a peak into a another realm of Pittman’s world.
For Metal fans, getting Between The Space and Better Or Worse will be an intriguing and mind-bending odyssey, as Pittman’s tedious song crafting activates the most intelligent senses in the listener’s subconscious. At heart, Pittman’s song-writing is direct and convincing with climatic story-telling. In the end, both Between the Space and Better or Worse are for Metal fans desiring to do a little thinking while listening to their Metal. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Between the Space and Better or Worse 4 out of 5 stars.