Alex Skolnick Trio – Veritas
By their fourth album, most bands would already have the bottom of the barrel well and truly scraped, but for Alex Skolnick’s jazz trinity this is probably the freshest they have ever sounded. Their tradition of adapting rock standards has been relegated to a solitary, though still quite mesmerising, rendition of Metallica’s Fade to Black, and lying in its stead is an outrageously varied melting pot of styles and technique.
Whether taking their cues from Prince on the authentically funkalicious 99/09, paying tribute to a long legacy of Indian music on the enigmatic Bollywood Jam or even dipping their toes in pseudo-breakbeat territory on Path of Least Resistance, they take the route of death-jazz maestros Cynic in never letting their technical extravagances get in the way of a good tune, instead leaving their compositions to saunter along while Skolnick’s guitar takes care of the technical labour. Skill, soul and balls; what more could you want in an album? [David Bowes]