I'm constantly amazed at the number of great guitarists out there that are basically unknown to the world. Actually, I'm not really not that surprised. Since the curse of grunge in the early 90's, a band with an exceptional guitarist was hard to find or basically ignored, and so were the solo artists. Consequently, today it seems to be all about the riffs: the heavier, more redundant and monotonous they are, the better. The guitar virtuoso stands by the side of the road ignored, but hardly despondent or inactive. They pursue their craft with vigor and passion. This probably best describes guitar whiz Nick Layton: constantly pursuing his craft, honing his skills and never, ever, being complacent. 'Storming The Castle' is a record of his passion, a monument to integrity and creativity.
From beginning to end, 'Storming The Castle is an exceptional work. Layton is without doubt in command of his guitar displaying ingenuity and brilliance throughout. Yes, he can shred with best, but there is more here. Layton can just as easily draw from the inspiration of heroes (Moore, Malmsteen, Lynch, Schenker among others) as he can develop from his own imagination. He often keeps a simple cassette player handy to record new riffs and melodies, only to sort through them late to form a new composition. 'The Valiant One,' a simply brilliant piece, developed by utilizing both methods.
Another interesting aspect of this work is that, while he originally intended 'Storming The Castle' to be a totally instrumental project, Layton found that some compositions did not work as instrumentals. Of course, there are many guitarists who record with vocalists; Malmsteen comes to mind as of late; Schenker is another. But most wish to display their chops first. When a guitarist chooses to enlist a vocalist, he jeopardizes his place at the forefront. 'Fire' and 'Deceiver' prove that Layton has the humility to question his compositions and also the confidence to allow another to interpret them through voice as well. David Cardwell shines on both adding depth and breadth to the composition and Layton's fret work.
Finally, I'd like to remark on just one more thing. It is the ability of Layton, as composer and a guitarist, to allow his arrangements and performance to invoke huge emotion and paint a tapestry of faith. I'm speaking of Layton's faith in Jesus Christ. The last three songs on the album, 'Tears of Gesthsemane,' 'Alive Again' and 'Psalm 91,' are not only the most pleasing and creative numbers on the album, but also the ones that display 'Imago Dei' in Layton himself. This guitar master is only mirroring the Master who endowed his creation with the ability to be creative.
Nick Layton's 'Storming The Castle' is a seminal work, one of creativity, beauty and brilliance. Every song is wonderful piece of art carefully formed by very passionate and skillful hands. Highly recommended!
- Craig Hartranft
Nick Layton's 'Storming The Castle' is a seminal work, one of creativity, beauty and brilliance. Every song is wonderful piece of art carefully formed by very passionate and skillful hands. I strongly encourage you to go to his site and purchase this phenomenal work.