Ron Ziai - Ron Ziai
Do-it-yourself artists are perhaps the most worthy of our praise and attention, especially when you start digging into those occupying the more progressive, multi-instrumentation, multi-genre styles of music. Ron Ziai is one of these creative workhorses, and if you read into the story of his life and artistic nature, it's clear that this has come about due to both neccesity and an inner-will to express himself through a universal artform. This self-titled album is the culmination of many years of creative process, and it contains within elements of his world travels, personal highs and lows, all emotionally potent in an extremely satisfying manner.
One might be quick to call this a progressive rock album. While the style of songwriting lends itself to bands such as King's X, Dream Theater, or even Rush, don't overlook the heart of it all; one man's creative energies spilling over on hard rockers, slow crooners, and all points in between. Ziai has a knack for leads that, in a perfect world, might have him seen as one of the more emotionally-keen guitarist, one who is able to lyrically express himself through his guitar skills. This is made obvious quickly on opener "Burn In My Dreams", which works off of a dark acoustic melody while Ron's lead generates a fiery wake, running head-long into a metallic mass of punctuated riffs and his excellent vocal approach. "Wander" stifles the pace in favor of a dark, introspective slow-tempo and hypnotic swirl. "Veterans of World War III" is a strongly emphasized political announcement, condemning the recent actions of our former President George W. without actually falling into the "heard it all before" territory this lyrical approach can land you in. The next highlight is "Can't Come Down", a dreamy, atmospheric & ambient song that represents Ron at his most open in terms of leaving space in his songs to let an idea flesh out fully. A wonderful track and placed properly right in the middle of the album. "Southerland" is probably my favorite of the bunch, with a strong Indian vibe pumping through it's hard-rock veins and one hell of a barn-burning solo.
None of the 10 tracks disappoints, and it's really amazing to note that Ron has created 99% of the material present, allowing room for several guest appearances that do add variety but take none of the impact of my previous statement away. The music is definitely progressive in that it never sits still, constantly evolves from track to track, minute to minute, and contains within a potent mix of technical ability and emotive creativity to use the former most effectively. This album will make my top-10 list and, for all intents and purposes, has been the most enjoyable surprise for me all year. I have to thank Ron personally for sending me a copy because I don't think I'd have found it otherwise. You can hear the album in it's entirety on his myspace page, or go one better and buy a copy. I don't say this about many bands or artists, but Ron Ziai deserves a world of praise, attention, and respect for his creative talents. Do not let this album slip by.
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