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The Dazzling Guitars of Herd of Instinct

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HERD OF INSTINCT: Herd of Instinct (CD on Firepool Records)

This release from 2011 offers 46 minutes of powerful guitar music.

Herd of Instinct is: Mark Cook, Mike Davidson, and Jason Spradlin, with guests: Bob Fisher, Martin McCall, Dave Streett, Gayle Ellett (from Djam Karet), Jerry Marotta, Kris Swenson, Pat Mastelotto (from King Crimson), Markus Reuter, Gavin Harrison, and Mike McGary.

A multitude of guitars conspire with percussion and additional instruments to offer a dose of heavy progrock in the vein of King Crimson or Djam Karet.

There are a lot of guitars and they're pushing the envelope to deliver tuneage full of growling chords, wailing sustains, and searing riffs of dark beauty. While the majority of guitars are supercharged with electric puissance, there are some instances in which acoustic guitar lends a pensive temperament to some passages. But the focus is on blazing pyrotechnics, the type that will satisfy and delight listeners.

The percussion offers powerful locomotion with compelling rhythms which alternate between intricate tempos and luxurious beats. There's frequently a sinuous mien to the drums, flavoring the music with a sedate nature that hints at eruptions to come.

The assortment of guest musicians provide softer instrumentation, like winsome flutes and dreamy mellotron and additional percussion and--believe it or not--more guitars, resulting in a potent wall of sound that, while often aggressive, manages to remain sultry and entrancing.

The majority of these tracks are instrumental, but one song features lyrical vocals (of the female variety, bestowing that piece with a uncharacteristic sweetness), while another includes vocal samples.

These compositions pack a monstrous punch that speaks more to the cerebellum than the gut. Yet there are still a profusion of teeth-gritting moments in which the music generates a wonderful intensity.

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