The new album by Las Vegas-based instrumental heavy rock quartet Dinner Music For The Gods has streeted and the band's out for blood money. The line-up is intact: Darrin and Jimmy Pappa, the guitar and bass-playing brothers, are back with second lead guitarist Andy Heilman and drummer Matt Muntean. 2009's Black Candle Cafe was likened to "Carlos Santana and Joe Satriani mugged Adrian Smith and Dave Murray on the way into the studio, and Janick Gers and Bruce Dickinson spent the whole day on the golf course." There are ideas, riffs and solos to spare on Blood And Red Wine, and not-a-one of its ten compositions suffers from the surplus of shreddin.'
"Fighting Hydra" crashes a quiet Sunday luncheon with the kind of twin guitar intensity that used to distinguish Queensryche, the Seattle melodic metal group whose more recent output is shake 'n' bake compared to the brilliance produced in their '80s heyday. Darrin Pappa's and Heilman's lines are often intertwined to the point it's hard to pick up one where one guy ends and the other begins. This merely means they know how to play around each other, a concept many guitarists don't have the sense to embrace. The rhythm section of Jimmy Pappa and Muntean is about as proficient as any on the current rock scene, and they definitely have an edge up on the chowderheads pluckin' and thumpin' on FM and Fuse.
"Blood And Red Wine" and "Tijuana Werewolf" reprise the Al Di Meola-goes-metal vibe from Candle. The approaches to melody, rhythm and picking in these compositions are apparent in that regard and thoroughly enjoyable. It should be common knowledge by now, but Di Meola is a versatile jazz guitarist with a career marked by atmo & ensemble records, but is mainly known for a string of fusion albums that sport the ferocity of hard rock. Al Di would no doubt approve of the goings-on, and in case it already isn't apparent, this band is named for "Dinner Music Of The Gods" from Di Meola's classic 1980 double-album Splendido Hotel.
While there is nothing subtle about "99 Octane" and "Throes Of Hell," this is a band of many shades and shapes. A fondness for heavy fusion, classic metal or hard rock — or all three — can be addressed within the context of Blood And Red Wine. The album even betrays affections for Peter Frampton ("Smoking Jacket," which contains a nice bass solo) and The Doobie Brothers ("Fleeting Twilight") in the stead of its locomotive charge. And what is arguably the most clichéd major film theme of all time, "The Godfather Theme," is reinvigorated here by its arrangement and the players' ingenuity; an intensified yet wholly recognizable version. The album closes out with a return to full-blown metal, the aforementioned "Throes," complete with the best blistering solos and drum fills this side of Megadeth and Rush.
This album is recommended to all enthusiasts of hard rock, particularly those weary of the theater of symphonic progressive metal or the narcissism of the guitar virtuoso genre.
Reviewed by Elias Granillo Jr. on May 17th, 2011