Alex Skolnick is most well known for his work in the legendary thrash metal band Testament. However, those who pay some attention to his work know that he is an amazingly versatile guitarist with an almost god given skill at guitar. So when I received a copy of ‘Veritas’, the latest from his Alex Skolnick Trio project, I was cautiously optimistic. So how does this metal guitar giant perform on ‘Veritas’? Find out after the jump!
Swaying from funky to beautiful, heavy (in the jazz sense) to mellow, ‘Veritas’ is an album that covers many bases, all while feeling cohesive and whole. Skolnick demonstrates astonishing dexterity and creativity on the guitar in both the rhythm and lead passages. He also knows exactly when to hang back to allow for Nathan Peck to show his bass chops or Matt Zebroski to add in a clever drum fill. The three play very well off of each other. You can hear the chemistry between them.
The production of the album is overall very good, though there were times when I had trouble discerning the notes of the bass. However, the guitars always sound warm, natural and fantastic. The drums have a deep resonance that can be heard thanks to the openness of the music. The cymbals have a great jazz sizzle in the high end. The many different styles of bass guitar that were used add such depth to the tracks. From bowed upright to fretless to electric, the variations help make each track have a sense of uniqueness.
Even though some tracks have multiple layers going on, there was still this sense as I was listening that I was in the room with these three musicians as they were playing. It’s a very intimate album that had me reveling in the beauty of the title track and then tapping my foot and nodding my head along with the funk of ‘99/09’. The cover of Metallica’s ‘Fade To Black’ was especially interesting as it went from the normal opening into a jazz chord melody version that was very fresh.
The Final Word: ‘Veritas’ is not an album for everyone. But for those willing to take the chance and listen to some jazz composed by a metal guitarist, you might find yourself hooked. Overall, I find myself wanting to come back to the again and again, which might be the greatest compliment I can give ‘Veritas’.