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Rick Ray Band: Violence Marred By Peace
Progressive Rock/Rock Fusion
Rating: 4.5/5.0

Finding Rick Ray and his band is much like the Gospel parable of seeking for the pearl of great price: once found, you're satisfied. There are many ways to describe Rick Ray: an unsung guitar virtuoso with impeccable skill, a guitar slinger who shreds beyond metal conventions, or a true homegrown (the album cover is totally Photoshopped), American heartland guitar hero who pursues the unexpected and unconventional. Rick Ray is all these things and much more. As for credentials (like he needs them), Mr. Ray and company have been on stage with Trower, Frank Marino, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Morse, Kansas, Michael Schenker, Pat Travers and a host more. If you haven't heard of him, then now's the time to listen up. The Rick Ray Band is very, very good at what they do.

And what do they do? Something totally unexpected, creative and sometimes, wholly indescribable: this is progressive rock fusion. In the credits you find many instruments beyond the normal guitar, bass and drums including clarinet, saxophone, oboe, trumpet, and trombone. (Honestly, I'm a sucker for the inclusion of horns in rock music.) Ray and band easily blend rock and shred with blues, jazz, psychedelia and more. And for some additional interest, Ray adds some social and political commentary in his work. But on to the music.

I was challenged by this work, yet thoroughly enjoyed it. You must listen carefully: this is not the same old same old. So here are some highlights. 'Sgt. Pepperspray' is melancholy and nearly psychedelic containing a solid bass line and shredding fret work which veers from metal to a subdued blues-like feel. 'Matthew' is supremely interesting thanks to the vibrant horns and great bass line. The guitar is accurate and subtle with less shredding. 'Lunatic Serenade,' an instrumetal piece, is beautifully strange reminding one of Pink Floyd. The premier piece is 'Among The Fire' where the fusion is brilliant: guitar and horns duel in a jazz rock fusion. Wow! Good stuff!

The Rick Ray Band is like Brand X meeting the best guitar shred. But that is still a wholly inadequete description. You must listen to this music to grasp the ingenuity and difference. This is totally challenging and creative stuff. I'm thinking I need to get the back catalog, but my pockets aren't that deep! Highly recommended!
- Craig Hartranft

In Short

Homegrown, unique, innovative, imaginative and blissfully pleasing: these words and more describe the work of the Rick Ray Band. This is complex progressive rock fusion that will please and stir your musical soul.

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