For those who’ve not heard of Russ Bergquist before, he’s a former bassist for Annihilator and the current one for Touch The Sun. This album is quite literally his own project. While performing with other bands, he’s had ideas kicking around in his head and has finally had the chance to get those ideas out there… with the help of some friends.
He’s taken on bass and rhythm guitar duties for this Project, and added a host of names to flesh out the tracks. Mark Petri covers vocals throughout, the only constant fixture other than Bergquist himself. Ray Hartmann (another Annihilator alumni) and Ryan Van Poederoyen split drum duties while Vivien Lalu and Dave Young share the keyboards. Lead guitarists featured are Brian Poulsen, Scott Webb, Alex Roque, Joop Wolters and Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, on “Shreddies”). Overall it’s a middle-of-the-road, upbeat metal record and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The tracks exhibit a fair it of variety, but one thing that runs through many is a frenetic beat which is undeniably a hangover from Bergquist’s Annihilator days. This is no bad thing, and while it’s an obvious influence there is no pretence that this is an attempt to “cash in”. This is his project, he just happens to be good at chucking in a fast bass rhythm! “Caged” is the best example of this. Up to the guitar solo, it’s verging into his older band’s territory but the guitar solo onwards changes things and allows Bergquist and his friends to show that this is something original.
He’s really let himself go wild, with songs like “Stabbed in the Back” and “Shreddies”. “What I Say” is more funky than anything else (with a wonderful opening bass line), while “Who You Are” is a very unusual choice to be released as a video (below). It does, though, really show off the sheer variety of songs on the album.
This is an interesting collection of songs from a bunch of musicians with impressive pedigrees. I did find the production a little weedy in places, where a meatier sound may have worked better, but overall it was fine. A middle-of-the-road album in terms of style of music, but a good listen nonetheless. I’m glad Bergquist got the chance to get those ideas out of his head and into the studio.
The Russ Bergquist Project is out now