Points North hails from California and consists of members Erick Barnett (guitar), Uriah Duffy (bass) and Kevin Aiello (drums). From reading the musicians’ autobiographies on their website, I expected them to crank out some impressive music. I wasn’t disappointed. Not even close.
They have an impressive list of equally impressive bands and musicians they’ve shared the stage with. But with the talent and accessibility found in their music, it isn’t hard to see why.
The musical talent on display here is simply stunning; most notably Eric Barnett’s playing. He sounds almost exactly like John Petrucci, in both sheer speed and how the melody is used in the major solos. He’s one of those players that makes guitar players think “I’m such a bad musician” after hearing him. I’m having trouble thinking of a song in particular that epitomizes this, but each one works to illustrate it. The bass playing and drumming are no slouch though, but one will have to listen hard to hear the amazing stuff they’re doing. Despite this, Barnett’s guitar steals the show.
Road Less Traveled keeps reminding me of Liquid Tension Experiment’s softer passages, as if the entire album is one of them after another. The songs still move along at lots of different tempos, but never are they metallic. This makes for a small problem; the songs are very similar to each other after a while, that you’ve had enough of hearing the same sort of thing. But they’re good enough to make you want to come back to them.
Their record label compared this album to Eric Johnson’s Ah Via Musicom and Rush’s song “YYZ.” I agree with them. There are definitely elements of prog rock all over, but it stays mild enough for anyone to stomach it. That is, people who can stand instrumental albums, as this is one.
Road Less Traveled is a great instrumental prog rock album that fans of prog rock, instrumental music, and virtuosic playing will love. It may sound a lot like an emulation of LTE, but at least it’s a good enough record to stand on its own.
Key Tracks: High Wire, Jubilee, Maiden Voyage
February 21, 2012