From The Critical Review Twisted THE HERMANATORS Monster Island Records Mitch Stein - guitars Rodney Holmes - drums Kip Reed - bass "Twisted Texas Twister" opens an amazing performance from a very talented trio. This project showcases three talented artists but it is really a vehicle to display the wares of guitarist Mitch Stein. His playing borders on the virtuosi. As far as playing blues/jazz/metal he stands out and surpasses many well known 'stars.' Having played or performed with among others TANIA MARIA, DAVID SANBORN, ADAM HOLZMAN, CYNDI LAUPER, and JODY WATLEY, he has a solid record. You can also add NELSON RANGEL to his list. His band mates are top performers in their own right. 'Modern Drummer' mag once raved about Holmes who has played with the ZAWINUL SYNDICATE, the BRECKER BROTHERS, SPECIAL EFX, Wayne Shorter, and SANTANA. Reed, the bass man has many credits including LIQUID HIPS, DONNA SUMMER, and TANIA MARIA. On this opener Stein plays some fiery blues that mix aggressive Austin (Texas)-styled riffs and chops with unique, strange notes along with some clever harmonies. "Cymbal Man" is a funky, bluesy soul effort mixed with acid-blues and dirty chords. Playing this stuff is not easy, few rockers can play like this. He is able to deliver a wide range of notes and chords that stagger the imagination. Some are fast sweet notes, others are airy, some metallic, supported by a solid rhythm. This is fusion with a soul essence, even with a yell. Get down funky is the feel. Next comes "Arf, She Cried" which has a solid beat and movement throughout. The lead axe work is a strange meld of jazz lick technique but the sound effect is a unique kind of blues if it can even be called that. This cut shows some of the best control by Stein and some of the more subtle nuances on the album. One of my favorite cuts. On "Angel" the guitar exponent continues to impress with his tasteful and technical sounding playing. He presents a classy edge to the textures delivered from his axe. This may be the best cut on the CD, if you are into the sweet notes with sharp edges that are part of all jazz guitar players. If I might, I have to almost call the playing on this cut philosophical. A song with a strange title, "Diet Tips From the Grave" give us a more gritty presentation. The drummer sparkles here and the music has a more recognizable blues/rock feel to it. I enjoyed the acid coloring on many of the notes. Again an impressive work that gave us some fiery jams. An inspired performance. "Like A Moose" is an off-beat, hard to classify creation. Here he melds bits of jazz, avant garde and blues sounds, moody tones, and an attitude of exploration. Almost experimental as he creates spaced-out rhythms and acidic alien notes on this track. Then on "Led Intro" [cut #7] we get some great blues/metal that leads into some real hard rock. "Sputnik Yamashiro" is the vehicle where he conveys a driving, melodic attitude. He can play hard but also add notes that one would think were created with a synthesizer. His hardest edges show how rock should be played. Most rockers and metal persons end up ruining their songs with overdriven guitar amplification that overshadows everyone and everything else. Stein is a rare player, one that brings so much to his project. The song "But What About Me?" tones down the hard edges and delivers a selection that has some excellent playing. This is more my style, but even when he 'blues out' with red-hot riffs, he still gets my attention. This may be my favorite instrumental on the album. He covers lots of ground on the cut. 'Twisted' closes out with a song titled "The Man With Three Eyes." One wonders at times, if Stein has three hands. Another great number. Some wild, wild guitar noises on this song. I am surprised and impressed with this album. If you like creative and exploratory guitar jams, you definitely should check out this CD. On a 10 scale gets a strong 8.7.”

The Critical Review

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