Michael Garrett may very well have achieved an instrumental guitar masterpiece with his latest effort, Watchful Eye
. The sheer tenacity of this album makes it a keeper, but the absolute genius makes it a classic.
The title track launches this album into a brute force frenzy with a fast-paced romp through a metal mesh of crunchy chops and bouncy percussion, giving way to an implicit cornucopia of lead guitar virtuosity. The next few trax keep up the pace nicely with a classy blend of tight, expressive leads wrapped around some monster grooves and surprisingly catchy rhythms.
But, just when you might worry that Watchful Eye
is becoming somewhat repetitive, Garrett throws in a little taste of his softer side with "Book Of Life
." While the song fluxes between bright and bluesy and neo-classical, it's peppered throughout with a breezy jazz appeal ... like something you might hear in a modern spaghetti western as the hero rides towards the horizon at the end.
Of course, this short vacation of mellow doesn't last long. "Plead Of Insanity
" breaks the silence with an earsplitting adventure back into Mike's world of shred. Finally, we close out Watchful Eye
with "Costa Azul," which translates to "Blue Coast." This is a beautiful classical Spanish sonata performed by a collaboration of Michael Garrett, Jose Bernardo and Josiah
Friessen. It really brings the feel of margaritas and senioritas to mind ... and may be one of my favorite tunes on this record.
Most of what you hear on Watchful Eye
was written, performed and produced by Michael Garrett and I believe it's a triumphant follow-up to his 2003 album, Rebirth
. The music is moody yet stable, energetic yet emotional ... grungy yet classy. With all of this going on, it's hard to believe the music was written by a sane person ... or is he? Maybe it's just me, but is this album possibly the crème de la crème of its genre? I guess we'll see...