Pastor Brad - Out of the Hellhole (independent/CDR demo) 2004
1. "Out Of The Hellhole"
"Out of the Hellhole" is a self-released, self-financed, home recorded demo CD by Pastor Brad, who really is a evangelical, Christian pastor. As such, the lyrics are very personal and are exactly what you might expect coming from a pastor; straight out of the Bible. There is also a lot of personal testimony. As a matter of fact, even the album title comes from some personal testimony and is explained on the ethereal sounding opening track. There are a ton of 70's and 80's influences mixed throughout the CD. The first time I played this CD I couldn't help but hear a big KISS influence in the music, which Pastor Brad confirmed when I asked him about it. The guitar playing is a major focus of the demo. There are tasty guitar solos spattered throughout the disc. Once again, the 70's influences peak through with some Eddie Van Halen inspired guitar playing. So are there any negatives to this otherwise positive review? Unfortunately, Brad uses a drum machine and the home recording means that the production isn't as "big" as some people might want. This is to be expected considering that this isn't a big budget label recording. As is stands, however, "Out of the Hellhole" quite enjoyable.
Pastor Brad - Shred (independent) 2006
1. "Shred" (4:49)
What's in a name? In the case of Pastor Brad's Shred, a lot! This CD indeed does shred. When I think of that word I tend to think of guys like Satriani, Vai and Malmsteen. Well, Pastor Brad and friends are also in that same school of instrumental guitar rock. The difference is that Pastor Brad is a bit more melodic and probably a bit bluesier than those guys as well. Think more along the lines of Steve Morris, or even Van Halen without vocals. Each song on this CD tells a story. Whereas some instrumental CDs tend to be a bunch of riffs for the guitarist to lay down some choice wankey, Pastor Brad has actually written songs for which the guitar leads to tell a story over. Yes, the songs actually have hooks. Brad brought along some friends to help him out as well. Fellow shredders Jon Hooper (Unforsaken), Andy England and David Jacob all lay down some choice chops as well. While the entire CD is a solid listen, a couple songs that really stood out to me was "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Angels We Have Heard on High". I would actually love to have an entire CD of Christmas music like this. (Hint, hint Pastor Brad.)
Pastor Brad - Reshredded (independent) 2007
Second instrumental disc in a row for Pastor Brad. As with "Shred", Pastor Brad and a host of friends offer a mix of tempos, textures and sounds. While Brad can shred with the best of them, he offers plenty of emotion in his playing as well. What tends to turn off many to instrumental guitar shed is that technique and speed are often more important than emotion and feel. Brad offers both here. "Tear Down the Walls" for instance, is an upbeat number with plenty of fast finger work on the fretboard. However, not unlike the very first Joe Satriani disc, there is a sense of melody and emotion to the song as well. Brad's guitar become the vocalist in each song, telling a story rather than just making idle noise. This is true of the entire disc. I didn't grow bored with this album, as I sometimes tend to do with instrumental albums. Brad lets some of his influences show on a few of these songs. "The Conquest" starts out with a distinct AC/DC vibe to it. "A lighter shade of melancholy" is an acoustic based track that reminded me a bit of Kansas or Yes at times. As well, "Riffage" brings in a bit of a 1970's influence. "Rain" offers a more laid back, melancholy feel with a mix of clean guitars and distortion layered with some smokin' guitar work. "Reshredded" finishes off with a heavy, groove based number that is oddly titled "BDBDBDBD". Overall, I think that "Reshredded" is a solid instrumental album and is actually better than "Shred". Features guest musicians such as Richard Lynch and Dee Harrington of Saint as well as Jon Hooper, Jim Griffin and others. Available through www.cdbaby.com or check out Pastor Brad's site at www.guitarjams.net.
1. "Oh Little Town
Of Bethlehem" (2:51)
Holiday, instrumental, shred, metal fest. Gotta love that! This CD was sent to me in December, so it was the perfect CD to jam during the Christmas Season. However, it's also not so Christmasy that I can't enjoy it year round either. Musically, this is the type of album that you would expect to be released on Shrapnel Records, however, Pastor Brad is an independent artist that has been releasing several albums a year without the help of a record label. Brad is a great guitarist, with plenty of chops, but he's not overly wanky either. His soloing is tasty and fits the songs, making for a more interesting listen for the average music fan.
Christian Metal Realm is a track in which seven guitarists and five vocalists make guest appearances. This song is unusual as it was a collaboration of musicians from the on-line discussion board of the same name. (www.christianmetalrealm.com) This song is an out and out slug fest of guitars and a standout track on the CD. However, it's not so different from the rest of the CD as to ruin the overall flow of the album.
While Pastor Brad's "Heavenly Shred" is an album with a Christmas/holiday theme, it is not one of those albums that will only appeal to listeners around December 25th. This is a solid album of guitar instrumentals His music will appeal to fans of Joe Satriani and James Byrd.