Title: Slave To The Fingers
Format: Enhanced CD EP released by Australian guitarist Joe Matera on 28 November 2011 as a joint release between Hugin's W.A.R. Productions label , cat ref WAR068, and the Australian Mercury Fire label. Colour inlays, with jewel-case. Hugin has directed the bonus video clip on this release.
01. Intro 0:30
02. Slave to the Fingers 3:37
03. Cruise Control 3:09
04. Out of the Blue 3:03
05. Face Off 2:51
06. Face Off (video) 3.03
You might reasonably wonder why an EP by Australian guitarist Joe Matera is featuring in today's post, given that it is Hugin's material that forms the basis of Honour and Darkness content. Well, the answer is simple enough, really: As Hugin himself tells the story, "I know Joe because he did a solo on the "Cold Sweat" CD. I simply wrote an email to him, and later he sent some of his own tracks to me to ask me if I could do a video clip for him like I did for 'Cold Sweat'. I liked his music and offered to release his next album at W.A.R."
So there you have it, simple really. Incidentally, Honour and Darkness reviewed Atomkraft's "Cold Sweat" EP in late October last year. And there's some exciting news in the pipeline regarding future plans for Joe and Hugin, as you will discover later in this post...
So, some basic introductions are in order. Joe Matera is an Australian solo instrumental artist and rock guitarist with a CV that includes being lead guitarist in Australian rock outfit Geisha and founding lead guitarist for classic rock band Double Vision. He has also contributed guitar to a number of various projects and recordings, one of which we now know includes being guest guitar soloist on legendary UK metallers Atomkraft's scorching cover of Thin Lizzy's 'Cold Sweat'.
Joe's website is well worth a visit (www.joematera.com) as it will give you the full picture of the man's work and influences far better than Nazgul's crazed ramblings. However, a noteworthy fact is that Joe is also a respected music journalist as well and during the course of his career, Joe has interviewed a who's who of the music world as well as spending time on tour with numerous artists, including Aerosmith, Metallica, Guns & Roses, The Sex Pistols, Thin Lizzy, Foo Fighters, Matchbox Twenty, Kiss, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Steely Dan, Roxy Music, The Doors, Bon Jovi, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard, Queens Of The Stone Age, Korn, Motorhead, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson, Cheap Trick, Hinder, Tool, Triumph, Stone Temple Pilots, Ratt, The Cars, The Smashing Pumpkins, Queen, Nickelback, Alice Cooper, New York Dolls, Slayer, Badfinger, Foreigner, Blondie, Yes, Megadeth, HIM, Linkin Park, The Shadows, John Mayer "and many, many others". Egads, I bet he's got a few road stories worth telling!
So, name-dropping aside, back to "Slave To The Fingers": described as "an all electric solo instrumental release featuring four brand new studio tracks, all showcasing Matera's six string talents".
Cribbing shamelessly from some of the PR on Joe's own site, "the EP begins in bombastic fashion with a brief balls to the wall rocking interlude aptly titled 'Intro', before Matera's tasteful melodic playing takes centre stage on the title track 'Slave To The Fingers'. Underscored by some eclectic styling, the track also features a special guest appearance by guitarist Mick McConnell from legendary rock band Smokie who contributes a breathtaking guitar solo on the track.
Next up 'Cruise Control', leads the charge as the EP's first single and is a soaring melodious affair, peppered by harmony guitars and a spirit recalling the halcyon days of 1970's classic guitar rock. 'Out Of The Blue' shifts things into overdrive, with Matera's harder rocking elements coming to the fore, for an all out sonic ear assault before 'Face Off', Matera's first all electric instrumental single from early 2011, and here being issued for the first time on CD, closes the EP majestically. The tight, rocking rhythm section backing Matera on "Slave To The Fingers" is comprised of Englishman Tony 'Demolition' Dolan (Venom, Atomkraft) on bass and American James Strickler (Angellic Rage) on drums."
And, do you know, your old Uncle Nazgul wouldn't disagree with any of that. On the first few listens, the two names that sprang to my mind as comparative-sounding guitarists in terms of some of the melodies and chops were Buck Dharma (Blue Oyster Cult) circa his "Flat Out" solo album, and Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits early releases. Clearly Nazgul's knowledge of the wider world of melodic rock is limited somewhat, being stuck in Castle Nazgul, but for what it's worth that's his opinion! And given that both of those players have laid down some rather tasty tracks over the years, it's no bad comparison either. What you won't get here - thank goodness - is overplaying or ill-conceived shredding just for the sake of it, which can be a problem on solo outings from other guitarists that will remain nameless...
And what of the video directed by Hugin? Well, listening to the track "Face Off" you're struck by the driving force behind the music: there's real hop-on-a-Harley and cruise into the sunset vibe going on. Quite appropriate, therefore, to find Hugin's video takes you behind the wheel of a car going down the freeway (or, to be entirely accurate, from the autobahns around Linz and Kärnten!) with some overlaid visual effects and the odd clip of Joe in the background. Speaking of videos, there's also a promotional video for this EP that you can find on YouTube via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCpphY1aQpk
And so back to the 'exciting news' mentioned earlier. In an interview with Tastes Like Rock, Joe reveals that he's working on some new material with Rich Davenport, who guests with Hugin in Manwe:
"I am working another new instrumental release, this time a full album. I am hoping to release that, all going to plan, later this year. I am also working on two other projects. One is a new band project under the moniker of Davenport/Matera, which is comprised of myself and UK singer/songwriter/guitarist Rich Davenport and is rounded out with a bassist and drummer. We have co-written all the material together and share the lead guitar duties and it is in the vein of Thin Lizzy meets AC/DC meets Blondie"
We also discover that:
"I am also laying down guitar tracks for an ambient/goth/metal project called Uruk-Hai. These tracks will appear on Uruk-Hai’s new album due for release in late 2012. So am busy, busy, busy…"