Impellitteri - Pedal To The Metal
Victor Entertainment
Melodic Heavy Metal
11 songs (40:31)
Release year: 2004
Reviewed by Mike

Chris Impellitteri and company are back with the band's follow album up to 2002's System X. Like System X, Pedal to the Metal features a new lead vocalist for the band. Curtis Skelton takes over behind the mic as Graham Bonnet is now out of the picture. System X, fronted by Graham Bonnet certainly alienated a lot of fans. Bonnet had pretty big shoes to fill with the departure of former lead man Rob Rock, and many fans obviously felt that he could not get the job done. However, I felt (and still do) that System X was a great album. That album is full of energy, emotion, melodies, and plenty of Chris' shred work to go around. I must say that I am instead feeling disappointed with Pedal to the Metal. Chris has obviously incorporated some influences from the "nu school" of music, which is a big detraction for me.

When I heard that Chris Impellitteri had recruited Curtis Skelton, formerly of the nu-metal band Speak No Evil, to front the band, I was extremely worried. I thought that Chris was going to completely abandon his classic sound, and go for a more contemporary, MTV friendly mallcore sound. Well, that isn't the case. The core sound of Impellitteri is still intact, although there are a few annoying nuances of nu-metal that find their way into the sound (mostly in the vocal department). Furthermore, Curtis Skelton just can't color these songs very well at all with his limited range. At the end of it all, I wonder if this is the type of band that Skelton really can put his heart into, rather than a more modern metal band. He lacks the range that I feel is needed to bring out the best in these songs. In addition, the angry, "nu" shouting (with distortions to boot) that he throws into many of the songs (Crushing Daze is a prime and over the top example) just sounds very out of place on an Impellitteri album. Granted, the guy DOES try to sing with a classic metal delivery throughout much of the album, but it seems like he wants to go back to his "nu" roots too many times. Again, this makes me wonder if a classic metal sound is really what this guy wants to do, or if it is what he can do best. If the band embarks on a tour to support this album, I really wonder how this new fellow will handle the Rob Rock era material. From what I hear on this album, the current rendition of Impellitteri will sound no better than an average cover band when playing cuts from albums such as Screaming Symphony or Answer to the Master.

Let's focus more on the musical aspects of Pedal to the Metal. Actually, this element of the music is just about what you would expect from an Impellitteri album. Chris lets this listener in on plenty of his classic sounding riffs and of course, shredding galore! For the most part, Chris' riffs are crunchy and just as aggressive as they have ever been. There are a few (thankfully not too many) moments where the riffs take a more modern metal (read: simplistic) feel. The Iceman Cometh is arguably the most noticeable example of this, although the shredding throughout this song will pick up the slack. In all honesty, there are enough strong guitar parts throughout the album to "hide" the inferior moments. The rhythm section of James Pulli and Glen Sobel is a big highlight of the album as they play with tremendous energy and guts. You'll hear plenty of double kick drumming throughout the album, which really provides the songs with a strong backbone. The songwriting is such that the melodies and tasteful solos are allowed to shine as they always have with this band. With a vocalist from a more traditional background, I am confident that these songs would sound so much better. The vocals of Curtis Skelton mixed with Chris' music is almost like mixing oil and water. But I digress. The song Punk shows a humorous side of the band. Eminem and other rappers are the butt of humorous parody in this song. The band even uses an Eminem melody to put an exclamation point on the joke. A funny track indeed, but it might have worked better as the final track of the album. Hurricane is the most traditional sounding track on the album, could have been a true killer with a better vocal performance.

Pedal to the Metal will likely receive a mixed review from fans. For established fans of the band who are also more accepting of modern metal and some "nu" vocals, you will love this album. Musically speaking, this album is very strong. On the other hand, most of Impellitteri's history includes one of the best vocalists in metal: Rob Rock. It's hard to ignore that fact when you hear someone with much less of a range singing and sometimes shouting and grunting on an Impellitteri album. Again, if this style of vocals is something you enjoy, you will likely enjoy this album quite a lot. I would urge any prospective buyers of this album to at least get a feel for the vocals before shelling out the cash. From my perspective, a more traditional vocalist with a better range would have made this album light years better.

Killing Songs :
Hurricane, Destuction
Mike quoted 63 / 100
Other albums by Impellitteri that we have reviewed:
Impellitteri - Wicked Maiden reviewed by Erik and quoted 84 / 100
Impellitteri - System X reviewed by Mike and quoted 92 / 100
Impellitteri - Crunch reviewed by Chris and quoted 63 / 100
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