The name Monte Pittman first came to my attention because he was the new guitarist in Prong. And my original thought was what? They’ve always been a three piece, why do they need a second guitarist? Then there is that famous video of Madonna playing “New Level” by Pantera, and I realized that he had become her guitarist. A lot of people want to make a living playing music for a living, Monte had found a spot where he could do that, and also work on his own music. I have had the pleasure of speaking to him on several occasions, and he’s always been forthcoming about his solo work, working with Madonna, and other pop artists. But he’s obviously not a one dimensional artist, as shown with these two albums. Better Or Worse is an acoustic album, while Between The Space is a continuation of his two previous Metal Blade releases, The Power Of Three and Inverted Grasp Of Balance.
The funny things is when you think of an acoustic album, there are some that gravitate to what Alice In Chains has done, falling way short, or people will meander off into other genres of music, molding themselves to that form of music, in some cases to try and get radio play. Not Monte, he’s put the acoustic guitar in a Texas Cloverleaf submission hold, and makes it do his bidding. This is Monte, and a guitar, with little else. The music sounds just as haunting, and just as heavy as if he would have recorded the tracks on an electric. And more than one of these tracks could be brought over to the other album, and end up being some of the heaviest music he’s recorded. The tracks present a musical and emotional landscape that will leave more than one track stuck in your head.
With The Power Of Three and Inverted Grasp Of Balance, Monte had a band with him, with the former it was famed producer Flemming Rasmussen telling him and the band to woodshed everything in the studio to sound more like a band, before laying the material down. And with the latter it was a completely different approach with two legends, Richard Christy and Billy Sheehan being on opposite sides of the country, sending Monte what they had recorded. In most cases you can tell bands are sending MP3 to one another because there is zero chemistry, not the case, with this album, as it sounds as if all three jammed, and fleshed everything out in a rehearsal studio, pushing the album to another level.
This time around, Monte has handled all of the instruments, production and mixing of the album. All of his albums show you flavors of all different types of hard rock and metal, he’s definitely not a one trick pony by any stretch of the imagination. Songs that seem to be straight forward, always have twists and turns, a mix of melodies, heavy riffage, and ridiculous soloing. The guy did study under Delores Rhodes after all, and adds a Rhodes flavor, and flair to a lot of things. It makes you wonder why Ozzy has never come calling, then again, his day job does allow him to work on and put out two outstanding albums like this, then you might decide to leave the dance with the girl that brought you there, and not look for another. And as I mentioned last week, when posting about the albums with other New Releases, not sure why Monte isn’t bigger than what he is. I hear people slobbering over other hard rock bands that have become popular these last few years, and can’t help but think how much more developed and infectious his music is, at least to me.
You can’t go wrong with either album, if you’re a fan of his work, their must haves, if you aren’t familiar with his solo work, check out the videos posted here, and if they catch your attention, do yourself a favor and check out the rest of his solo work.
Songs that immediately stood out to me: Depth Perception, Have Faith, Evidence, Changing Of The Guards.
Better Or Worse: 8
Between The Space: 8.5