"Tone Poet" is the fourth solo release from the astounding west-coast guitarist/keyboardist Adrian Galysh following the critically acclaimed "Venusian Sunrise" (2011), "Earth Tones" (2008), and "King Friday" (2002).
Like a musical incarnation of Robert Lewis Stevenson's dual personality Jekyll & Hyde, the compositions of Adrian Galysh teeter and alternate between the unbridled savage fury of prog/speed metal and the majestic soundscapes of cinematic film scores.
With the blazing light-speed and technical proficiency associated with guitarist like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Steve Morse, John Petrucci, and Michael Romeo, Galysh pumps out hard rocking numbers like "Brick By Brick", "When You Fall", "Flying", and "Movie In My Mind"; complimented by vocals from Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen and Royal Hunt). These vocal tracks with Boals should appeal to aficionados of progressive metal bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Queensryche, Stratovarius, Fates Warning, Threshold, Opeth, Riverside, Pain Of Salvation, Ayreon, Rhapsody, and Shadow Gallery (etc.).
Whereas I find the instrumental tracks more to my liking - both the energetic metal fusion tracks like "Spring (The Return)" and "Echoes Of El Greco", as well as and his ethereal orchestral compositions.
His classical tracks like "Luminae", "Tone Poet", and "Epoch" are beautifully arranged orchestrated pieces one might expect to find on an album from Camel, Gandalf, The Enid, or Vangelis. Polar opposite from the four prog/metal rockers mentioned earlier.
"Epoch" packs the melancholy splendor of Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings" - a sentimental composition used in films like "Platoon" and "The Elephant Man" - which tugs at the heartstrings. It's the only track on the album without guitar; highlighting Galysh's talent for orchestral arrangements.
Multi-instrumentalist Cailyn Lloyd did a beautiful version of "Adagio For Strings" on her 2012 release "Four Pieces", and Galysh's "Epoch" brilliantly captures the very essence of Barber's classic tune.
My least favorite guitar-driven solo albums are those in which a technical guitar virtuoso substitutes style over substance, flashy fretwork over thoughtful compositions. Thankfully Galysh pays as much attention to melody, arrangements and pastoral textures as he does supersonic arpeggios.
His dramatic flair for regal choral arrangements on tracks like "Resurrectis", "Luminae", and "La Dolce Vita" gives the music a grandiose operatic vibe.
Aiding multi-instrumentalist Adrian Galysh (electric and acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, programming) on "Tone Poet" are bassist Phillip Bynoe (Steve Vai, Ring Of Fire), drummer Todd Sucherman (Styx), drummer Charlie Waymire (Speak No Evil), and the aforementioned vocalist Mark Boals.
"Tone Poet" presents an entertaining balance of melody and menace - power and passion.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on February 12th, 2014