Rockenfield/Speer - Hells Canyon

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Bee & Bee Records
Catalog Number: BBRS2001
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:38:00

Apparently this little instrumental beauty had been released by Scott Rockenfield and Paul Speer independently, yet few people actually knew about its existence. Hence the fact the Dutch Bee & Bee label thought it wouldn't be such a bad idea to give it a second chance by putting it in a terrific new cover designed by Swedish wonderboy Mattias Noren and sporting an exclusive track in the form of the newly penned "Epilogue."

The first guitar chords into the steaming fusion fireworks of "Seven Devils" has me think of the unlikely talents of Jeff Beck straight away. However it's all down to Grammy nominated Speer whilst Queensryche drummer Rockenfield adds the majestic keyboards segments in order to define a truly powerful track. More ominous has to be "Chant Of The Fathers" with a dark choir taking over the entire atmosphere as if a thousand monks were lurking into the valleys of Hell's Canyon! Without knowing its title I thought the next track should have something to do with snakes as the wailing guitar had to be the work of a new breed of snake charmer and by god "Snake Dance" was born! Scott's quiet drumming together with the very atmospheric voices blend together in order to create yet another stunning composition. Both "Crossing To Freedom" and "Coyote" sound a little more "technical," probably down to using sequencers and loops in the rhythmic pattern. The "Coyote" even makes you dance whilst he "howls" in the distance.

I already mentioned the name of Jeff Beck which once again seems to visit during "Red Torrent." which has pizzicato guitar become the turbulent water whilst tribal drums underline the ethnic reference. The same water has now gained such a speed that it has become lethal. Scott's speedy drums now are the "River Of No Return," whilst female voices are kind of the "voice of death" lurking amidst the rapids. Reading the story about "China's Last Stand" in the liner notes makes you wonder how man could do such savage things. The soft, intimate music kind of gives us the chance to think about the cruelty of mankind and wonder why the hell we lower ourselves to those animal instincts in the first place. I simply hope those who were once innocently murdered can hear these divine sounds wherever they are.

On the back of Speer's bluesy guitar we visit "Buffalo Eddy" a song which has an open arrangement in that it leaves all options for Paul to introduce sparse guitar licks whilst Scott steers this song into his direction by means of some fine drumming. A synthesized choir opens "Carved In Stone" which of course would have sounded much more majestic if a real gigantic choir was used. Again some tribal sounding drums open the path on which Paul can freely use his well crafted leads which even complement the rhythm. The choir and operatic voices swim in an ocean of cosmic wind before drums and guitar arrive like dark clouds in a blue sky, like thunder on a summer's day. A pastoral end to a stunning album. Yet this new edition of the album also sports an extra track called "Epilogue." The thunder and lightning from the opening track" Descent" is once again used together with Scott's tribal drumming and Paul's bluesy approach. Washes of string sounds add an addictive touch and a superb ending to a wonderful album which will please fans of rock, progressive rock and ambient alike.

Released in the US by Rainstorm Records (RS1233) -

Decent (0:33) / Seven Devils (3:41) / Chant Of The Fathers (3:09) / Snake Dance (4:37) / Crossing To Freedom (3:15) / Coyote (6:04) / Red Torrent (4:06) / River Of No Return (4:55) / China's Last Stand (4:44) / Buffalo Eddy (4:14) / Carved In Stone (6:13) / Epilogue (5:19)

Paul Speer - guitar, bass guitar, keyboards
Scott Rockenfield - drums, percussion, keyboards

Paul Speer:

Collection 983: Spectral Voyages (1984)
Natural States (1985) (w/David Lanz)
Desert Vision (1987) (w/David Lanz)
Shades Of A Shadow (1990) (w/Leroy Quintana)
True North (1992) (var. artists, Speer is one)
Collection 983: Spectral Voyages (1983)
Collection 991: Music + Art (1992)
Bridge Of Dreams (1993) (w/David Lanz)
TeleVoid (1998) (w/Scott Rockenfield)
Quiet Thoughts (2000)
Hells Canyon (2000) (w/Rockenfield)
Stone Garden - Stone Garden (rec. 69s, rel. 1998/2001)
Wonders (w/Paul Lawler and Satine Orient) (2009)

Oculus (DVD) (2008)

Scott Rockenfield:

Queensr?che - Queensr?che (1983)
Queensr?che - The Warning (1984)
Queensr?che - Rage For Order (1986)
Queensr?che - Operation: Mindcrime (1988)
Queensr?che - Empire (1990)
Queensr?che - Operation: Livecrime (1991) Queensr?che - Promised Land (1994)
Queensr?che - Hear In The Now Frontier (1997)
TeleVoid (1998) (w/Paul Speer)
Queensr?che - Q2k (1999)
Queensr?che - Greatest Hits (2000)
Hells Canyon (2000) (w/Speer)
Queensr?che - Live Evolution (2001)
Slave To The System - Slave To The System (2001)
The X Chapters (2002)
Queensr?che - Classic Masters (2003)
Queensr?che - Tribe (2003)
Queensr?che - The Art Of Live (2004)
Queensr?che - Operation: Mindcrime II (2006)
Queensr?che - Mindcrime At The Moore (2007)
Queensr?che - Sign Of The Times (2007)
Queensr?che - Take Cover (2007)
Queensr?che - American Soldier (2009)

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: February 1st 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 790
Language: english


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