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Glyder - "Playground For Life" (CD)

Glyder - "Playground For Life" CD cover image

"Playground For Life" track listing:

1. Gamblers Blues (4:57)
2. Sweets (3:30)
3. Puppet Queen (3:48)
4. Playground For Life (4:34)
5. For Your Skin (4:19)
6. Walking My Own Ground (3:24)
7. Dark Meets Light (3:49)
8. Sleeping Gun (3:23)
9. Over And Over (3:38)
10. The Merrygoround (4:37)

Reviewed by on February 4, 2009

"'Playground For Life' is an astute study of human nature, with a pleasing blend of classic metal and hard rock providing the backdrop."

The irony of Glyder’s “Playground For Life” is that the mostly mellow vocals and instrumentals lull you into a happy complacency, while the insightful, sometimes harsh lyrics get under your skin in a way that scratching won’t ease. This irony is best displayed in “Dark Meets Light” and “Sleeping Gun,” where the lyrics verge on goth, while the tune is nothing but light and airy. The album focuses on the many guises and masks people wear, and how in many cases, we are little more than puppets.

Nearly everyone will recognize at least one of the archetypes in “Playground For Life,” whether it’s the attention-seeking “Puppet Queen,” or the religious hypocrites in “The Merrygoround.” Indeed, many Americans still reeling from the Bush administration may find themselves relating to the lines “They are the righteous and they know it all, they’ll nail you to a tree in the name of liberty.”

Glyder’s lyrics are brilliant, a trait that separates them from most hard rock/classic metal bands currently on the scene. You might even be able to say that we haven’t heard such cleverness since Pink Floyd, one of the band’s biggest influences, along with Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, and Dio. Their music, unlike a lot of metal, isn’t angry, but rather provides a calm commentary courtesy of lead vocalist Tony Cullen.

While not copying anyone, Glyder manages to combine elements of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin in tracks like “Playground For Life,” where a hushed opening with slowed down instrumentals leads the way to a 70’s riff that gets smashed to pieces by a shrieking guitar solo. “For Your Skin,” a darkly passionate love song, is a similar track, where the tempo slowly increases until a wailing guitar takes the lead.

Taking their cue from Thin Lizzy, Glyder wields dual guitars masterfully in “Sweets,” where the pulsing rhythm of one funk guitar meets head on a grinding hard rock guitar with some showy finger strumming. Bat Kinane and Pete Fisher also duel it out in “Gamblers Blues,” where a bluesy bass lends a southern rock feel comparable to Saliva to the track.

The best track hands down is “Over And Over,” which opens with a classic metal sound, heavy on bass and low range chords. The alternating mellow vocals and pulsing instrumentals illuminate the highs and lows in the lyrics, and the result is the feeling of falling down Alice’s hole, swirling through the mysterious mist. The heavy use of a whammy bar at the end intensifies this feeling.

There really isn’t a failed track on the album. The only flaw is a brief interlude between the first verse and chorus on “Walking My Own Ground” that seems a bit disjointed. Otherwise, the transitions are smooth and logical throughout the album. About the only change that could have been made would be track order. The streak of independence and ambition to rise above the masks in the crowd that is featured in “Walking My Own Ground” sounds more like a final track, the vow taken after a cathartic acknowledgement and rejection of guises, rather than being thrown in the middle. Otherwise, the tracks are smartly placed, as the listener travels down an ever increasingly disturbing path of deceit.

Glyder is a refreshing break from the wave of glam metal fashioned European bands that permeate the scene. While still defining their own unique sound, this group of Irish hard rockers has managed to meld the techniques of pioneering bands like Pink Floyd and Thin Lizzy with the anti-suburbia messages of Green Day. “Playground For Life” is an astute study of human nature, with a pleasing blend of classic metal and hard rock providing the backdrop. Listeners will come away ready to purchase the latest album, “Weather The Storm.”

Highs: Brilliant lyrics throughout and fantastic dueling guitars in “Sweets.”

Lows: No glaring mistakes, although the transition in “Walking My Own Ground” is a bit rough.

Bottom line: This is a really smart album with wide appeal, despite its lighter sound.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)