October 15, 2009


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Rodigo y Gabriela, 11:11
ATO Records, Sept. 8

Even the least cynical scrutiny pronounces this unplugged-Spanish-guitar masterpiece a novelty album, since jazz certainly won’t tolerate the theatrics and metal (which is the roots vibe here) lives and dies by interesting drummers. But this Mexican boy-girl team-up hang a one-in-a-million peg: once past the (amazing) flamenco slapping and baked-clay siesta-chill that occasionally happens here, it’s no less than the world’s first easy-listening thrash-metal album. The press chit-chat about it may have had you picturing a lot of plugged-in guitar wailings, but only once does that come up, upon the guest spot from Testament’s Alex Skolnick in memoriam for Dimebag Darrell during “Atman.” But that’s all for that. The duo’s bread-and-butter is various clinics on plucking, strumming and, for lack of a gentler, more fitting word, gimmickry, such as the emulation of a wah-wah pedal in the Hendrix-dedicated “Buster Voodoo,” and the Stomp-inspired percussiveness occurring in “Santo Domingo.” A pure gem for aging Metallica fans who physically can’t turn the volume knob to the right anymore. A —Eric W. Saeger