Ray, Rick - Balance Of Power
Year of Release: 1999
Label: Neurotic Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Total Time: 59:03:00
Balance Of Power is but one of nine releases by Rick Ray, nine releases which have been, for the most part, recorded and released in 1999 (and but one of nine reviewed on this site). Ray is in fine form on this disk, which contains some tracks that remarkably don't sound like other tracks on previous (succeeding?) discs. But there are some that follow that patented Rick Ray pattern. A lyricist he is not, as the same meter and rhyming pattern is used for most of the tracks - and a very basic pattern at that (abab).
But then again, it's his guitar skills Ray is showcasing, not his singing. Nor his keyboards, bass, and drumming - all of which he plays here (as on every release). Rick Schultz, another fixture in the Ray oeuvre, contributes reeds - mainly his clarinet. At least on "Dance Of The Sinners" the clarinet is better placed and used in the mix ? for the most part.
"Endurance" is a Satriani/Vai/Petrucci like workout - which suggests speedy fretwork, pyrotechnics, soaring runs, and the rest of the "guitar hero" package. Quite impressive playing, actually, as the song just keeps cooking.
Because Ray doesn't have a website [at least, at the time I wrote this], there hasn't been much info available, no way of telling what his goal is, what his agenda is - and there is an agenda here in his music, given the album and song titles. One recurring theme is the "New World Order." As I mentioned in the Atomic Soldiers review, whether he is a mouthpiece (guitar pick?) for this fear, paranoia, philosophy (whatever) or ironically pointing out the (perhaps) absurdity of this contention, isn't clear. Because it's a recurring theme, one does have to wonder which side of the fence he's truly on. And perhaps even that is the sly goal - get your album mentioned and your agenda, and in doing so, finding a free forum for speaking out.
The sound quality on this disk is on par with most of the catalogue - better mixed than some, not quite as crystal as others. Like other releases, there are musical hints of early- to mid-eighties Rush. Though you can really mention almost any hard rock guitarist and find some sonic similarity. Oddly though, it is the Geddy Lee's bass work I think of rather than Alex Lifeson's guitar.
There's an interesting guitar rhythm on "A Burning Mountain" which is the first to last track that gave me pause - and yet, it sounds eerily familiar?nonetheless, I like it. Maybe because, unlike a lot of Ray's playing, it's crisp and clear, without distortion (without that "fuzzy" feel). "Back In Time" features a more bluesy guitar feel that I quite like, even if it's not entirely original. There are a few notes here and there that are Rothery-esque, (light and lyrical) others that will remind of Arena (dark and brooding), but other than that, the track falls into typical Ray mode - probably one better served as an instrumental rather than a vocal track. "Iris," which follows, begins with gauze-thin shades of Eric Clapton, and but for the guitar, actually made me think of Spock's Beard. But don't think because you might be a Clapton or Beard fan, you will latch onto this, as it's a rather hazy, "sounds sorta like" kind of thing.
Some nice acoustic rhythm work in "River Road," (though this isn't meant to be the spotlight feature). Along with Neurotic Tendencies, this Ray's best overall work (Neurotic edges it out), and comes recommended.
The One After That (3:33) / Endurance (4:11) / The Fly Aways (5:12) / Bloppy Stuff (part 2) (2:23) / Dance Of The Sinners (4:37) / Guitarmastice (5:00) / Fire It Up (3:23) / Balance Of Power (2:40) / Back In Time (4:47) / Iris (3:24) / Blues Of Ignorance (3:44) / River Road (3:09) / Kevin's Dead (3:31) / A Burning Mountain (5:25) / Technology (part 2) (4:04)
Rick Ray - everything else
Rick Schultz - reeds
Abnormal Road (1999)
Balance Of Power (1999)
The Great Antagonist (1999)
Clone Man (1999)
Atomic Soldiers (1999)
Neurotic Tendencies (1999)
You People (1999)
Looking Into the Past (1999)
The Key To The Bottomless Pit (1999)
Cast Into Our Dimension (2000)
Living In An Insane World (2000)
Mind Control, Inc. (2000)
Manipulated DNA (2001)
Insanity Flies (2001)
Existing Passages (2002)
The Guitarsonist (2002)
Rick Ray Band - Into The Hands Of Sinners (2003)
Rick Ray Band - Out Of The Mist Of Obscurity (2003)
Rick Ray Band - Night Of The Living Dedicated (2004)
Chainsaw Manicure (2005)
Rick Ray Band - Temporary World (2005)
Rick Ray Band - Nothing To Lose (2007)
Rick Ray Band - Violence Marred By Peace (2008)
Rick Ray Band - The Setlist (2009)
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