Although two out of the nine tracks that are featured on "Thrive" are songs: Say It Loud and Shaman (2 & 5), this album is stylistically much more uniform than "Suffer". Both of the songs and both of the boundary tracks of the album: Suffer and Console Warmer present the further development of that unique blend of Cathedral Metal and Jazz-Fusion which is one of the central hallmarks of the band's debut (and, thus, its style in general). Having written this, I've thought that the same words can be said about another central stylistic aspect of Gongzilla's music - a blend of guitar-based Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion that all of the other compositions on "Thrive" are about. (Well, the written word remains.)
Accordingly, these are Island, Image, Les Vosges, Listen to the Wind, and Image Reprise (3, 4, 6, 7, & 8). While there are some obvious stylistic similarities between "Suffer" and "Thrive", the second album is more atmospheric and has a rather mysterious feel to it. Also, most of the arrangements here are distinctively dramatic in character. Back to the heavier compositions on the album, it must be said that Gongzilla's Cathedral Metal is far from any traditional forms of Progressive Doom-Metal and is based on a highly original (incomparable with anything) ultra-modern Gothic Rock, which, in addition, is filled with hypnotism. The alternation of merely dark shades and eerie ones, all of which, though, aren't that noticeable at the first (or superficial) listening to the album, is typical for the musical palette of any of the four tracks that I mentioned in this review first. The heavy, fat solos of Hansford's bass play a prominent role here, while those of electric guitars interlace with each other weaving intricate patterns like being laid-back from all the surrounding musical events. Amazingly impressive stuff! David Torn (see line-up above) is an ECM artist, and I heard a few of his solo and collaborative albums. Like Bon whose view on music isn't limited by any stylistic framework, David is also an open-minded guitarist, and in my view, his style of playing a guitar fits better the music of Gongzilla than that of Allan Holdsworth. There are no ballad-like pieces on "Thrive" and all five of the other compositions on the album are complex, diverse, and very intriguing. Here, the arrangements are based on a wide variety of interplay between all of the band members and most of them are in the state of constant development. Les Vosges (6) is the only composition on the album where passages and solos of an acoustic guitar are at the forefront of arrangements along with solos of electric guitars and those of bass. Listen to the Wind (7) is above all notable for the pronounced, highly inventive solos of bass that dominate the parts of the other instruments throughout the composition. Despite the fact that unlike "Suffer", Benoit Moerlen's vibraphones are involved in the arrangements on only about a half of the tracks on "Thrive", overall, this album looks more coherent than the previous one. Now, having acquainted with two out of the three studio albums by Gongzilla, I can assert that this is one of the best supergroups ever existed in the history of Rock music.
VM: April 23, 2003