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The Art of Solitude

I'll be damned. Rochester, New York. Don't know much about Rochester except it's not far from Greece. No shit. Greece. Says so right on the map. And that Shelflyfe is from there. Never heard of them? Then you're obviously not from Rochester, New York. Or maybe you just prefer safe, solemn music. What they play is neither safe nor solemn, I guarantee you, but it's pretty damn good. In fact, every time I hear The Art of Solitude, I think, hey, these guys are good enough to share the stage with , and if you don't know who those guys are you don't know what a compliment that is. Era For a Moment, or EFAM as they like to be called (say it fast five times and you know why), dragged me kicking and screaming back into the world of hard rock earlier this year with their excellent When Earth Meets Sky album and I had flashback whiplash for weeks. Their brand of hybrid hard rock/arena rock took me back to the days of Cinderella and Winger and that handful of bands which ruled the arenas in the mid-80s when I could actually sit through three loud sets without needing resuscitation. I thought EFAM was an anomaly (meaning an exception). Until I learned The Art of Solitude. That one-two bill with EFAM? A natural. Wait. Did I say Cinderella? Winger? Not really. These bands are more for the music rather than the show and let's face it, those other two were all show. Well, mostly show, anyway.

revolves around the music of one Gustavus Gricius, which may or may not be his real name (I've heard weirder), who combines arena rock, hard rock and whatever core turns vocal chords to shredded wheat. Not Gricius's, which is melodic and soaring, but that of whichever band member is possessed by, I assume, Satan. The odd combination on most of the songs of lead vocals and harmonies a la (insert favorite excellent arena band here--- posers need not apply), machine gun staccatoed guitar and the occasional death-core-speak is intriguing. Toss in power enough to vibrate hair from its roots, songwriting run through a compactor (no excess fat on these meaty tracks) and attitude which would make you avoid any dark alleys where these guys might be hiding and you begin to understand.

Best tracks? Take your pick, but the opener (Given Everything I Can) is the most universal, the dynamic wall of sound chorus of the plant-you-against-your-seat variety offset by rolling piano backdrop. Add the very impressive bridge buildup to the finale and the final crunch guitar end and what more do you need? Wait. I know. Nine more songs, each punctuated with massive guitar sound supported by just the right amount of programmed keyboards and vocals to match.

Listen to this loud and it wears you out. The sound is in places overwhelming and the unrelenting demolition of Cole Cooper's drumming is grenade-level. Maybe I shouldn't have brought it up. These guys look crazy enough to use grenades at their next show. If you're going, wear a flak jacket. Consider yourself warned.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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