Anyone who knows me knows that I love music - all kinds of music. Certainly I have my favorites but I can usually find something to appreciate in every genre... except Middle Eastern pop music. That's just something I can't get into. So, with that out of the way, I present to you the latest album from The Infinite Staircase, "No Amends".
Typically, the bands I review are pretty straight forward metal bands full of piss and vinegar. "No Amends", however, is not a straight forward metal band at all. There is definitely a pop sensibility here that is usually lacking in metal. Actually, I'm pretty hard pressed to classify The Infinite Staircase as metal at all.
The Infinite Staircase is two brothers, Lenny and Jeff Cerzosie, and a whole hat-full of special guests. Among them drummer Morgan Rose, Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society), Lajon Witherspoon and Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Chris Cafferty (Savatage) and many more. Suffice it to say, the musicianship on "No Amends" is spectacular.
As for the style of music, that's a different story. As I mentioned before, I would not classify this album as "metal". Sure, it has some distorted guitars but the production puts it squarely in the same field as, say, Nickleback or a mellower Sevendust.
The album opens with the track "Can't Control It", the first 15 seconds of which led me to believe this would be another traditional metal album. It then switched so a more melodic number and stayed that way. It's a hard-rocking little ditty with a pop feel and terrific harmonies. The drumming is subtle but not simple and does a nice job of adding a heaviness to the song.
By the way, Lenny Cerzosie is the guitar player and lead vocalist on most of The Infinite Staircase's songs and his vocal style reminded me of Cat Stevens with and Eddie Vedder "yarl", if you can imagine that.
"Slowly At Least" continues in the same vein; the lyrics are important and are featured in the foreground of the song, a blend of distorted and acoustic guitars, heavy then slow.
The songs on "No Amends" are similar in structure, familiar in sound and, yet, full of surprises. With so many special guests it's no wonder the bass flows on one song and rocks on the next. There are some keyboards here and there and a plethora of vocalists. It makes for some entertaining listening.
One of the standouts on this six song album is the title track, "No Amends". It's an acoustic tune with excellent, heart-felt vocals and harmonies. It may feel like you've heard this song before but it's a comfortable familiarity and one can't help but be impressed by the quality of the music.
But wait, there's more... a bonus track! Track seven is "The Pride" which The Infinite Staircase refers to as "their top 30 mainstream rock hit" but I hadn't heard it prior to listening to "No Amends". Maybe I need to get out more. It features Zakk Wylde and Kevin Martin (Candlebox) as well as several other musicians and appears to have been written with Superstorm Sandy in mind . The video for "The Pride" features images of Sandy's devastation interspersed with shots of the recording session and, within that context, it's a powerful and compelling song.
The style of music The Infinite Staircase plays is not my particular brand of whiskey but that doesn't mean it's not good. On the contrary, the music is excellent. The song structure is top notch and the lyrics are personal and soulful. If your listening tastes lean toward the mainstream then give "No Amends" a listen. It's a fun album that accomplishes what the band set out to do. They have created a solid record that will be enjoyed by many, many people. Keep an ear out for The Infinite Staircase on a radio station near you.