I have to say, when I put this CD into the player I wasn't expecting to be blown away. Well, that's exactly what happened. This guy is an incredible guitarist, but also a good songwriter and so much more. He does far more than just the guitar on this disc, but it's probably the guitar work that will impress the most. This is already a contender to be in the top ten or so discs of the year. And the thing is, Mantel is essentially a local guy, residing in Chicago.
If I had to pigeonhole this album I'd probably lump it into progressive rock, but not every song on the CD fits into that category. He even divides it up into two separate "acts," something you would definitely think of as fitting with progressive rock. The music itself stretches into 70's oriented classic rock, jazz and other stylings. He even takes on a full on country jam at one point - and I mean both country and western. One thing I need to mention here is that of all the guitarists in the world Steve Howe (Yes) is my favorite. Well, there are times when Mantel nearly convinces me that I'm listening to one of Howe's solo albums. In fact I hear some of that Howe texture on the country inspired track. I also hear such guitar gods as Gary Hoey, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani on here. The man can master the fretboard with a passion and skill that's right up there with all of those guys. The thing is, Mantel also has that oft-missed talent to change things up from song to song. That makes this disc exceptionally entertaining.
This one should definitely be of interest to fans of virtuoso guitar playing. The truth is, though, it should be on the "must have" list of fans of melodic rock, fusion and other styles, too. You just don't get much better than this. With all the CD's I get to review I tend to be a hard sell, but Eric Mantell definitely won me over with this killer disc.