CHRIS BICKLEY – Tapestry Of Souls (2012)
CHRIS BICKLEY is a session guitarist who has played with Joe Stump, Ron Keel, Chris Slade (AC/DC, The Firm) and Thunderhead among others.
Taking time out for himself has delivered his first solo CD “Tapestry Of Souls”, which was written over the course of two years. The album contains 11 songs, comprising a mixture of instrumental and vocal tracks featuring prominent vocalists from the Hard Rock community.
Bickely’s style dabbles within the confines of multiple genres, but he is basically oriented to the melodic hard rock realm. Chris can shred, but we aren’t in the eigthies anymore, so he wisely has added to the mix sung tracks that gives more value to the entire concept.
The CD starts with the good, melodic and catchy instrumental “Race Car Guy” delivered in a MacAlpine / Satriani style, the kind of track to drive your roadster fast.
Next we have the first sung title “This Time It’s Gonna Hurt”, and the musical approach drastically changes. This is a ’70s inspired heavy blues-rock tune. The vocals by the relatively unknown Jimmy Kunes (Cactus) are top-notch for this style, gritty and edgy, with plenty of melodic guitar overtones guiding the song.
“Fallen” is one of the best examples of Bickley’s talents as it morphs from bluesy Jeff Healey inspired emotion to a full-on guitar fest supported by a Hammond organ led groove.
Next, Kelly Keeling (Baton Rouge, Schenker) leads the way on “Crying Shame”. The Deep Purple influence makes its presence known during the chorus ala Glen Hughes, but in my opinion, Keeling sings out of pitch most of the time. A ‘Crying Shame’ indeed…
“All Or Nothing” is a good barn-burner instrumental fest where every musician gets room to shine, followed by “Chemical Love” sporting blazing guitar lines and melodic passages.
Chandler Mogel (Outloud, Talon) takes over vocals on “Lead You Astray”, a really moving, energetic song with a catchy vocal hook. Nice one.
The title track follows up next and opens with a beautiful acoustic guitar melody. As the instrumental song progresses, it smoothly builds into a powerful heavy piece driven by the drums and piano accompaniment with a memorizing solo glazing over the top.
“Walk In The Park” leans backward to a ‘70s rock vibe and has an almost ‘jam’ song approach, complete with a good horn arrangement.
Mike Vescera (Malmsteen, Loudness) drops his powerhouse vocals on one of the best tracks in the album, the Alcatrazz-like “A Step Behind”. He sings over a heavy, rhythmic pulse that builds into a layered vocal chorus. As this song is the last vocal-led track on the CD, it is a fitting end to this side of Bickley’s songwriting skills.
Closing out the recording is the final instrumental song “Old No. 9”. This is a very good acoustic bluesy number with a big Bonham-style snare, and hints of southern rock guitar harmonies appear as the mellow number brings the disc to its end.
“Tapestry Of Souls” is a good and varied guitar album with well constructed songs, not just musical excuses to shred over.
It’s a CD focused on songs and melodies, Chris Bickley doesn’t rely solely on speed to impress (although he has that in his repertoire as well). He is actually capable of inserting some emotion into his guitar compositions.
Apart from the dreadful Kelly Keeling performance, the rest of the stellar guest vocalists add a welcomed balance to the disc, and the musicians involved are solid, including BJ Zampa (House Of Lords, Dokken), Bobby Torello (Grace Slick, Michael Bolton) and Dino Fiorenza (Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai).
It’s great to see melodic shred ain’t dead. Chris Bickley definitely proves this on his debut, where production is not flawless but fine enough.
01. Race Car Guy
02. This Time It’s Gonna Hurt
04. Crying Shame
05. All Or Nothing
06. Chemical Love
07. Lead You Astray
08. Tapestry Of Souls
09. Walk In The Park
10. A Step Behind
11. Old No. 9
Chris Bickley – guitars
Jimmy Kunes – vocals (2)
Kelly Keeling – vocals (4)
Chandler Mogel – vocals (7)
Mike Vescera – vocals (10)
Vick LeCar – guitar (5)
Tom ‘The Suit’ Forst – guitar (5)
John Bruno – guitar (5)
Eric Klaastad – bass (1)
Michael K. Smith – bass (2,6,10)
Scott Spray – bass (3)
Rick Gauthier – bass (4,7)
Dino Fiorenza – bass (5)
Alex Pierce – bass (8)
Chris McCarvill – bass (9)
Dominick Mauro – bass (11)
BJ Zampa – drums (1)
Bobby ‘T’ Torello – drums (2,3)
Paul Pedroncelli – drums (4,7)
Gaetano Nicolosi – drums (5,6,8,9)
Michael Giammattei – drums (10)
Mark Focarlie – keyboards (5,8)
Vic Steffens – organ (3,11), drums (11)
Bill Holloman – horns (9)
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