It's quite possible that I bought the disc from drummer Sam Adato at his drum shop on 9th St. in the City, or that Sam just gave it to me. So many years later, it's tough to remember the details. As I remain a a music nerd, and feel genuinely interested in what people are doing musically, especially people like Sam, I am glad to have kept this one.
Sticks And Stones are/were an instrumental band that pulled from various strands of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal to get their point across. Disaster Amnesiac hears the influence of guitar greats such as Michael Schenker, Alan Holdsworth, Edward Van Halen, maybe a bit of Frank Marino, Randy Roads et al in the six string approach of guitarists Gretchen Menn and Mickael Tremel. Perhaps a bit of Davie Allen in there, too. You know, players that played. I can't seem to make exactly who is soloing at certain times, but it's clear that whomever it is is very interested in the more melodic side of the guitar's solo sounds. That's not to say that they don't get down into the rough stuff at times; just listen to May Be the One or The Bat Signal for proof of that. Plenty of heaviness in those tracks. Still, one can clearly hear the sound of players that practice their craft, and get things said with their own, thought-out and worked out instrumental voices. It's also really cool to listen to and feel the way that the rhythm guitarist within a given piece keeps things harmonically interesting within the context of the song's movement. There is just so much great guitar going on within Unbreakable Strings, as further evinced by a faithfully executed version of Kashmir by way of the Dixie Dregs, a cool tribute to Roads on Stay On the Roads, with its spot-on quote from one of Randy's shining Blizzard of Oz moments, and the close to ballad lyricism of Siddhartha. Menn and Tremel swagger, swing, shred, and riff in dozens of exciting ways, all the while never seeming rest on the lazy "cool" that sometimes seems to infect guitar players, especially in urban scenes. These two never slack, and it's fun to hear them dig in.
Along with all of this great guitar playing on Strings, the listener is also treated to the bitchin' drumming of Hard Rock master drummer Sam Adato. Disaster Amnesiac feels confident in saying that Sam's talents would shine within any musical form, but it seems safe to say that hard 'n heavy guitar music is his forte (I have heard him swing the shit out of a Surf band, just fyi). Just pick any song on this disc: the rolling, stomping Wagon Wheel and A Line In The News, or energetic Turn the Page, with its fast fills, or the intricate Struck Sleepless; you'll find Sam's big bass drum, crackin' snare, and tasteful cymbal beats all over the place. The man just drives these tunes in ways that are rock solid and just perfect for the task at hand. Sam additionally adds really subtle percussive touches throughout, spicing things up with shakers, cow bells, and tambourine shakes. Disaster Amnesiac can recall going into his shop and seeing him in front of a practice pad or sitting at one of his many drum kits so many times. Sam seems to live and breathe drums, and that dedication really shines within the music of Sticks And Stones.
Taken as a whole, Unbreakable Strings is a very well thought out and executed slice of Progressive Instrumental Hard Rock. Bring your ambitious listening side to it, for the players in Sticks And Stones certainly brought and executed theirs.