A seven-year break doesn’t stop the creative construction
After seven years, the Alex Skolnick Trio have released their fifth album on September 7, 2018. The band comprises of Alex Skolnick on guitar, Nathan Peck on bass and Matt Zebroski on drums. Skolnick is best known for being the lead guitarist of the thrash metal band Testament but started touring with the Alex Skolnick Trio in 2002. Originally, the band produced covers of well-known classic rock and heavy metal songs from bands like Kiss to Black Sabbath, but, for their past three albums, Conundrum included, they’ve released a majority of originals.
When describing the meaning behind Conundrum in a press release Skolnick says, “It represents the sense of confusion many of us are feeling in the midst of the strangest sociopolitical upheavals of our lifetimes. This album captures many styles in an effort to channel that angst into art and inspire others to do likewise.”
With the first track, “Unbound,” people are immediately engulfed in a world of inventive jazz as the distinct stringing of a guitar fills the air. Honestly, the saying that this song “sets the tone” for the rest of the album doesn’t even begin to accurately express the rest of the album. Each number has a unique tone and vibe, but all the songs undeniably fit together. It’s almost as if each piece is made on the fly with all the shifts in tempo heard in both the guitar and drums that occur in individual songs.
“Conundrum,” the album title song, is the best example of showcasing the multi-layered, as Blabbermouth reported, riffs and sections that can be produced by a guitar. It’s not surprising, knowing Skolnick’s background, that throughout the whole album, multiple types of guitars and techniques can be heard. This includes a hollow body (Godin), solid body (ESP Alex Skolnick/Fender Telecaster/Gibson Doubleneck SG) and acoustic (Taylor). Also, the overlap of multiple instruments speaks to what Skolnick said the album focuses on which is the confusion that people are going through at this time.
Ultimately, the various types of guitars and layers weaved in each composition acts upon the mind to jar people and not be complacent with one sound. In one instance there are sharp, fast-paced riffs and clear notes in “Django Tango” that highlight the crisp nature of beautifully executed notes as well as showcasing the rawness of an acoustic guitar. While later in the album, “Key of Sea” exhibits more drawn out/muddled notes through an electric guitar.
No matter what song someone is listening to in Conundrum, it’s guaranteed that people will be left in awe after experiencing the swift changes that each jazz piece displays.