“Revision” EP by Mark Miner – A Music Review
One Line Review - It's a Bigger Record Than the EP Format Allows It to Be.
I’m really not a fan of virtuoso guitarist records. Yngwie Malmsteen was my first exposure to this niche in the mid-80s and like most people my age, I got fully hooked by Joe Satriani in 1987 by “Surfing With the Alien”. Like a true music fan this record led me to further explorations of both the roots and then (’87) currents of the field. I explored Jeff Beck’s “Guitar Shop,” went head-over-heels for Eric Johnson’s “Ah, Via Musicom”, and then seemingly as abruptly as it began I hit a wall. Vinnie Moore, Steve Vai, and the rush of others became just too much. When Satriani’s “Flying In a Blue Dream” (1989) was released, I’d officially had enough, I said, “I’m Out!”
Now, barring a few exclusives, older Jeff Beck and Eric Johnson’s continuing career, I’ve stayed out. Sure, Satriani still puts out some great records and I’ve heard a few tunes, kinda hard to miss actually, but I’ve never bought another. Really, they just got all crazy 16th, 32nd, 64th notes; wheedly-wheedly-wheedly-this and wheedly-wheedly-wheedly-that. It seemed that speed and hubris took over both tone and melody. It felt like the niche had altogether lost it’s tune.
In January of 2014 a friend of mine, yes a guitarist, released an EP of instrumentals and I did the unthinkable... I bought it. I downloaded it from iTunes and popped it onto my iPod and left for work. At 5:30am, full dark out still, I clicked the “Play” button and immediately was transported. This huge synth layer fills my truck cab, marching boots, and hollers and yells begin to flood my ears and mind with an instant scene of night and fire, and tumultuous challenge. What the heck is this? “Arrival” my iPod screen says, and I think, “No shit! Well if you guys’re here now, we best get moving, hadn’t we? Where’re we going?” and man, I was In!
Mark Miner’s “Revision” EP begins with a rush and ultimately turns out to be what sounds like excerpts from a greater work. The overall sound and feel of the “Revision”-EP, for me, is one of a classic metal “hero’s journey”, albeit a very Nordic telling. It’s some pretty awesome listening. A through-line is evident throughout the tracks, and you can’t help but crave a filling in of the blanks. I don’t know if this EP is intended to be a teaser for a larger work, but man does it feel like it, and my appetite for more is thoroughly wetted. The entire EP has sweat, fire, flexing muscles, and lots of heavy blond hair.
Here’s a Track breakdown:
Arrival - Right from the start a heavy synth line is lain, similar in sound to some King Diamond intros. This quickly invites the sounds of marching feet as something of nefarious origins enters the scene. The vocalizing shouts of would-be invaders arrive with a heavy guitar crunching hand reminiscent of Queensrÿche’s “Anarchy X.” The only issue I have here is the break between this track and the next; I just felt that the two should meet and proceed rather than cut and start again.
Revision - The track itself begins with a guitar riff copped right out of Kirk Hammett’s side pocket (see Orbital’s “Satan”). Dabbled with flavors of George Lynch it gets rocking right away. The track “Revision” demonstrates the heavy footfalls of both the traveling groove and the watchful eye of the would-be story’s hero as he begins the climbing of his preverbal mountain. It’s a great track that’s climbing all the way, up and up into the sun; it seems to drip sweat from its solos.
Ocean’s End - A thoughtfully slower beginning brings to mind the climax of Rush’s “Fountain of Lamneth”, and most likely where my belief that a greater story is meant to be told comes from. I get strong images of a Nordic gent on the deck of a ship, guitar in hand, playing the storms at bay in a sweltering sea night. This guy stands solid, never off balance, literally rooted to the ship and his beliefs. I hear lots of wind and rain, lots of blues, blacks, and white caps. It’s a song that feels like the riding out of our heroes storm.
Frozen - This is my favorite track; ironic because it does have a few wheedly-wheedly moments. “Frozen” begins with a rhythm riff similar to Kansas’ “ Fight Fire with Fire.” Serving of its namesake, the song is cold and sharp. Musically it saws, and evokes images of forbidding tunneled tombs of frozen water. The song’s got grit and some wailing solos.
Finally- I can’t say this track sets the stage for the closing of the journey. It’s clean tone acoustic-ness and title certainly leads one to think that but I can’t quite picture it. There’s a middle section that certainly beats with strength that implies a “returning”, but to what, to home or to the journey? To me it feels more like Rush’s “Panecea,” a longing for you and yet I’m leaving you track. Completely effective.
The drums on the EP really stand out as a simple guide to keep the listener within the lines. They’re not flashy, over bearing, or in your face but solid and complete. Meant more so to ground and pace the listener and they do a damn good job.
Let me say outright that this is not a crazy guitar wielding EP. It’s actually got some songs, and their backed by what sound like real musicians. This isn’t a crazy virtuoso chopping 32nd notes in the 40 yard dash, its got speed but if feels controlled and directed. This is a worthwhile metal musical effort and one I’ve returned to repeatedly for listens. At a runtime of less than 19 minutes it’s hard to get bored and at the same time it’s easy to want more. Not such an easy line to walk; Kudos to Mark and his crew.
In the end the “Revision” EP is a great work; short and strong. Miner’s influences are evident and welcome, and this EP slides in nicely next to them. Here’s to hoping Mark’s got more for his listeners in store.
|Release Date :
||January 8, 2014
||Mark D. Miner
||All guitars, bass*, keyboards/synth, and drum programming by Mark D. Miner
*Micah Hughes: bass on “Arrival” and “Finally”
||Mark D. Miner
||Mark D. Miner
||Mark D. Miner
|Mixed by :
||Mark D. Miner
|Songs Recorded at:
||Metal, Instrumental, Hard Rock
Here’s the iTunes Link to purchase the EP or any Track thereof:
Revision - EP - Mark Miner
Here’s a look at the “Revision” Promo:
Here’s the Reverberation Link where you can check out the Tunes and Mark himself:
His CDBaby add for those interested in Working w/ Mark
Personal - Check this Out:
Turn Down The Lights, Turn Up The Sound.
Matthew Gilbert © 1999-2015 All Rights Reserved
Get your own free subscription to this E-mailing.
Please remember to add – Music@ReviewsbyMatthew.com - to your address book and check your SPAM or junk mail preference to allow E-mails from this address.
For privacy and respect of my E-mailing subscription recipients, I do not sell or trade E-mail addresses.