"The Unstruck Melody" (Holistic Music Entertainment; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

The inner tray of Eric Mantel's "The Unstruck Melody" boldly states: "Let the Musical Journey Begin..." And "Musical Journey" is the best way to describe this well-produced, finely performed instrumental (for the most part) guitar CD.

The one thing that's apparent throughout "The Unstruck Melody" is Mantel's impressive talent. He has been compared to Eric Johnson elsewhere but, being only slightly familiar with Johnson's work, I can't say whether that's an accurate comparison or not. I can say that Mantel is a master of many styles which is one of the good and one of the bad things about this CD. Good, because any guitarist who can wade into virtually any style and make it his own is someone of considerable talent. Bad, because readers of are usually looking for the metal chunkers and shredders and, although I'm certain Mantel would be capable of it should he so desire, there isn't a lot of metal on "The Unstruck Melody" (although there is the occasional shredding solo).

Although, as with any guitar instrumental album, a number of styles come to mind as you listen, I was most often reminded of a guitarist like Peter Frampton. Frampton's style of smooth, guitar-driven rock is the stuff that Mantel most often performs, although there are other moments that bring to mind masters like Joe Satriani and, on the few vocal tracks, the latest CD by Boston.

But back to that aforementioned "Musical Journey." On "The Unstruck Melody," Mantel throws in rock instrumentals, jazzy pop, jazz fusion, rock fusion, classical, blues rock, ballads, country and more. He even squeezes in a sitar once or twice. What's amazing is how well the end product winds up. Despite its plethora of styles and genres, "The Unstruck Melody" is a very listenable record. 

Again, this probably isn't the kind of CD that you'll be playing a lot of air guitar to and you definitely won't be banging your head. But it is a fine and enjoyable display of  considerable talent; not only for Mantel as a guitar player, but as a songwriter and musician overall.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:46 -0400.