IMPELLITTERI – Pedal To The Metal

IMPELLITTERI - Pedal To The Metal


SPV Steamhammer
Release date: March 24, 2004

Vocals: B-
Guitars: A
Bass: C+
Drums: B
Recording Quality: B+
Lyrics: B-
Originality: C+
Overall Rating: B

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For those that may have forgotten the last three years, Impellitteri is the band led by neo-classical guitar shredder Chris Impellitteri, who has been cranking out releases since the late 80’s. It’s been three years since the last Impellitteri release (System X with Graham Bonnet on vocals), and obviously Impellitteri fans aren’t into the band because of their speedy “time to market.” This newest release introduces fans to a new singer in the form of Curtis Skelton. Skelton’s presence fills the void of USA vocalist Rob Rock, who left in pursuit of a solo career. Rock was the Impellitteri frontman for over 10 years, so needless to say, Skelton has some big shoes to fill.

This particular release contains a “twist,” as portions of it might induce a severe case of Déjà vu. Obviously, this was part of the intended reaction as Chris Impellitteri himself is quoted as saying the following on his fan club website: “This CD is very tongue and cheek … On a few of the songs, we pay TRIBUTE to some of our favorite bands by musically mimicking them. You will hear lots of cool memorable riffs, hooks, and rhythms that you have heard by Swedish Metal bands, Modern American Metal bands, etc. … but with lots of fun shredding guitar solos and screaming vocals.” After the initial spin, listeners will hear familiar bits and pieces (e.g., distorted vocals, Grunge vocal delivery in some spots, etc.) that will remind them of other bands. For diehard Impellitteri fans, this shouldn’t be a deterrent; for others, this style might cause them to lose focus.

Listeners will immediately realize that this is not a traditional Impellitteri release when the opening track “The Iceman Cometh” opens with growling, gravely, distorted vocals. In fact, only two of the ten tracks contain that traditional Impellitteri feel and trademark rhythm crunch. Of course, both of these tracks, “Destruction” and “Propaganda Mind,” are two of the best tracks on the album, each containing complex heavy Chris Impellitteri rhythms. As expected, the entire release contains plenty of technical fretwork by Chris, who never truly carries on with any over-extended, self-indulgent, egotistical guitar escapades. His guitar remains ever present and comes through the mix crystal clear. People can talk about his lead playing all they want, but the fact remains that he is also an outstanding rhythm player, and if you enjoy that aspect of his playing then this release will not disappoint.

False harmonics are heard throughout aplenty! Additionally, Sobel provides a concrete backbone, as he provides rock solid drumming on every track. New front man Skelton also does a commendable job delivering the different vocal styles and vocal nuances throughout the album. Fans should find him an acceptable replacement for Rob Rock. Also noteworthy is the fact that Skelton had his hands in writing most of the lyrics for this release, making him somewhat of an all-around quality find.

Special mention needs to be given to the track entitled “Punk,” which is another standout, purely because it’s a catchy Rap Metal song. This track will bring back memories of Anthrax’s “I’m The Man” and Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba.” The track has one of the heaviest “head-bangable” guitar and bass rhythms heard on disc in a long, long time. This track alone is almost worth the price of admission.

It’s a shame that Impellitteri never truly made it big in the States. They managed to release one album commercially (the exceptional Stand In Line with Graham Bonnet on vocals) before concentrating on countries overseas. One has to believe that part of the reason is that Chris was portrayed as a “Malmsteen copy.” At this point, nothing could be farther from the truth, especially when comparing Pedal To The Metal to Malmsteen’s current, speculative Unleash The Fury release. The only thing the two of them share is fast playing.

Bottom line: if you can live with an occasional shift in musical consistency on a CD, then there are a lot of things to enjoy here. Granted, it’s not as groundbreaking or memorable of a release as one would expect between a three-year layover, but this one certainly has its enjoyable moments worthy of attention.


Chris Impellitteri: Guitars, Production
Curtis Skelton: Vocals
James Pulli: Bass
Glen Sobel: Drums


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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