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David T. Chastain - "Heavy Excursions" (CD)

David T. Chastain - "Heavy Excursions" CD cover image

"Heavy Excursions" track listing:

1. Capriccio In E Minor (3:46)
2. Spontaneous combustion (3:39)
3. 18th Century Inamorata (3:58)
4. Wild and Truly Diminished (2:18)
5. Now Or Never (4:05)
6. The Oracle Within (4:16)
7. Excursions Into Reality (5:00)
8. Schizophrenia (3:21)
9. Blitzkrieg (4:09)
10. Pompous Rompous (3:51)
11. Menage a Trois (4:02)
12. Set (4:04)
13. Burning Passions (4:03)
14. Attack of the Mechonrites (4:07)
15. Rambunctious Delicacy (4:58)
16. Countdown To Infinity (3:53)
17. 827 (3:22)
18. Thunder and Lightning (4:07)

Reviewed by on May 24, 2009

"The album’s focus is on scale-climbing and shreds, and is a wise investment for string aficionados."

Unless you’re a budding guitarist, David T. Chastain may not be a name you instantly recognize. But chances are you’ve heard his work, whether on a Nike commercial, or on one of your favorite tv shows. He’s provided instrumental pieces for nearly every major network, and has written and produced music for Firewind and HammerFall. He also founded his own record label, Leviathan, which has produced albums consisting mainly of Chastain’s own projects, but also a handful of other artists.

Chastain has been actively involved in the industry for more than twenty years, and recently decided to release a compilation CD of his heavier instrumental pieces, aptly entitled "Heavy Excursions." The album’s focus is on scale-climbing and shreds, and is a wise investment for string aficionados. Unfortunately, for those less enthusiastic about guitar-centric compositions, “Heavy Excursions” quickly becomes a repetitive mix.

Several of the tracks have a thrash edge to their tempos, but they eventually dwindle down into mellow monotony. The exceptions to this rule are the two highlights of the album, "Wild And Truly Diminished," and "Blitzkrieg." The opening of "Wild and Truly Diminished" is similar to Slayer’s "Raining Blood," and is a good listen throughout, with higher range frets and lots of reverberation. "Blitzkrieg" also has a bit of a Slayer-ish sound, and is about the only track where drums are allowed to do their part, rather than playing second fiddle to the guitars. "Blitzkrieg" is an old school assault that is a solid tune.

There’s a bit of funky sleaze throughout "Burning Passions," and the intro to "Schizophrenia," but the latter ends up sounding more like casino music. The Spanish guitar in "Pompous Rompous" and "Excursions Into Reality" is a nice addition, and "Set" offers a sing-song sampling of strings that reminds me a bit of the underrated but complex sounds of middle eastern music.

Overall, there’s a lot of focus on thrash and early stadium rock, but so many of the tracks are just similar enough for the album to become mundane halfway through. Certainly those who enjoy instrumental and, specifically guitar compositions, will enjoy this sampling, but if you’re not looking for an educational listen, "Heavy Excursions" probably isn’t worth the bother.

Highs: "Blitzkrieg" is a good, old fashioned thrash tune.

Lows: Guitar-focused compositions leave the rest of the instruments ignored out in the cold.

Bottom line: A classic sounding guitar medley that is a good choice for budding guitarists, but a bit tedious for the rest of us.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)