Guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite has worked with a variety of different acts over the years from Alanis Morrisette to Roger Daltry and is also known as axeman for Gothic rock band The Mission. For his solo album, MGT may still be behind the guitar, but he has enlisted the help of several of his musical friends to take up vocals duties on this creative venture.
The album aptly titled Volumes, is an eclectic mix of soundscapes from industrial to electro, symphonic to outlaw rock, allowing MGT the freedom to show his versatility. This is not an album that follows one focus or objective, it's similar to a compilation album in the way it demonstrates an oeuvre of MGT's work and abilities. This may divide audiences who are used to listening to albums which follow a continuum. True, it lacks direction in the traditional sense, but it gives a great deal of variety and surprises for those who are more broadminded.
The opening track, a cover of ABBA's Knowing Me Knowing You with HIM's Ville Vallo on vocals, is a total curved ball and a perfect example of the unchaining of MGT's creative freedom on this album. It's actually a pretty good cover version, and hearing that classic riff beefed up to Brian May proportions will certainly raise a smile. It's something you could see The Darkness doing but not necessarily your classic rock guitarist like MGT - but that's exactly the point and what makes the album so enjoyable. The Reaping (ft Ashton Nyte of The Awakening) takes on a noirish tone, with clanging industrial tones and Nyte's seductive new wave vocals making this one of the standout tracks on the album.
A contrasting feminine touch is added by Julianne Regan for Star Struck Eyes who puts in an ethereal spin on the music. The melancholia of Carlo Van Putten's vocals on the darkly romantic Sweet Valentine and the poppy Seconds ft Saffron from Republica, just demonstrate how different this album shifts from track to track.
Another Day Back, is a terrific track, incorporating country, outlaw rock and even a nod to Hungarian folk music helped along by some mysterious harmonies and sinister violins. It's different from anything else on the album. The choice to bring in several different vocalists, male and female, also give the album a really unique and fresh feeling. Coming Clean (ft Raymond Watts of PIG) is Bowie meets Gary Numan and the acoustic ballad Drive And Forget, ft Ricky Warwick continues the multitude of flavours on offer here. Dark Storm's jigsaw of progressive sounds ends the album on a sombre and sinister tone, which is where the album draws its strength.
The songs, like the structure of the album, alternate too, mostly between brilliant and mediocre. There's definitely some great moments here, at times you forget you are listening to one album. Imagining it as a concept album with a variety of characters creeping in with their own theme tune should help if you find it a tad disjointed on the first listen. But it's worth sticking with, there's plenty on offer although it's certainly at it's best when dealing with the darker Gothic elements rather than trying to dabble in conventional rock structures.
Groupie Rating 3/5