CD of 2003 The Guitarists.com GREG RAPAPORT ~ AZRAEL BLOCK ~ AZRAEL BLOCK is the newest CD by Greg Rapaport, a well rounded, if not all encompassing musician. He played all the instruments, composed these intricate and at times complicated songs, programmed the drums and did all the studio work where he showed surprising skills. He even did the incredible artwork for the CD. After hearing AZRAEL BLOCK I was amazed that one mind had conceived, executed and created such a stunning piece of work. Something this great is usually the work of a team. Greg is obviously seasoned in all areas of the trade, a true consummate professional. This is the kind of do it yourself greatness that the Record Industry fears with it's cold heart. Right On Greg!! Power To The Musician!! Sorry man, I got a little carried away. I reviewed Greg's last CD 'WYRD' so I'm no stranger to Greg's music. But I had forgotten how deeply his music could cut, or how quickly it could heal. Much of the music here has a Jeckell and Hyde quality that I just love. One minute he's Dr Jeckell, the articulate, calculated creator of visions. Then in a heartbeat he's Mr Hyde, insane, powerful and dangerous. Greg just loves to lull you into a false sense of security, and then without warning slam you head first into a wall of Metal. This keeps you looking over your shoulder every time a song takes a calm turn. You just know he's waiting around the next corner with an axe. AZRAEL BLOCK is a very groove oriented CD partially do to Greg's certifiably mad bass playing. I do find myself switching off between listening to the guitar and the bass. Just check out the slappin' on 'Interlude-B' or the highly funk induced 'Difunckt'. This CD would undeniably appeal to Bass guitar fans as well. There are a some ferocious funky parts that would make Bootsy Collins take notice! But, back to the CD...A line from John Kay (Steppenwolf) best describes this CD, 'It's Evil, Wicked, Mean and Nasty'. AZRAEL BLOCK is exciting, forceful and full of heavy moods and dark colors with moments of beauty and light. But even in some of the most beautiful moments there is still this uneasy vibe. Not a feeling of doom, just uncertainty, the kind that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. But this isn't entirely a metal CD, although it is HEAVY.....I have to say that I love the relentless attacks that come out of nowhere in Greg's music. He is among the masters of shred, and his attacks will leave you bruised. But when he slows it down and put away the flash, his music reaches a whole new level, becoming spiritual, even transcendental. Expressing a beauty that no eye has seen, but thanks to Greg, the mind has. He reaches this point in both 'Interlude-A' and 'Flatline'. Where we get to see Greg at his most creative and imaginative. He paints a highly detailed background. Right down to almost ambient sounds. The production of the entire CD is nothing short of exceptional. I've heard CD's that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to record that aren't even in the same league as AZRAEL BLOCK. Whoooaa! Rockers and Shred lovers, this stuff will beat you up and leave you for dead. Any calm moments are usually followed by an all out assault. Greg is a conquerer that shows no mercy, and knows no mercy. I don't make comparisons, (Vai with a bad attitude meets Satriani with too much caffeine meets Petrucci) so I will say that Greg is among the masters when it comes to Rock, Metal and Shred. But when it come to shear merciless aggression/force/power/attack/ Greg has no equal. And his understanding, and powerful use of dynamics make these attacks that much more damaging. Trust me, when you're drifting off into space during one of the softer moments, and you forget where you are. Then suddenly Greg rips off your head with some deadly Metal riff/solo you'll get it. 'A Highly Technical Guitarist Who Sets New Boundaries For Progressive Metal. This Is The Standard By Which All Other Metal Guitarists Should Judge Themselves'. THE TRACKS The CD opens with 'Azrael Block' - Right from the beginning this song throws you head first into the darkness. Opening with a wicked shout sound bite that get placed again in strategic points to enhance the already ominous vibe. Then all of a sudden there's a moment of sanctuary, the music is calm and soothing, your heart rate slows bringing you a sense of security. But the attack is back on! TRACK #2 'Sever' - A beautifully/aggressive song that seems more aggressively/beautiful at times. An aural attack that's rooted in Rock, with a Metal edge. Some highly emotional/soulful playing here. Even though this is a very pretty song, that ominous vibe from track one seems to carry over to this song, creating a pleasant but uneasy feeling....... TRACK #3 'Tech Support' - Opens with a sound bite of a phone ringing over and over. Funny that's the exact sound I hear whenever I call Tech Support. But that's a story for another time. A very funky Jazz song with plenty of no bull sh#t Metal attitude. Damn this song is downright wicked with it's danceable Funk and nasty Metal. This song will have you shakin' your ass and thrashin' your head at the same time. Greg's attack and sound of the solos on this one is really dirty. I turned this one way up when I first heard it! TRACK #4 'Interlude-A' - Greg paints an aural landscape on this track, and I would call it a masterpiece. Slowing it way down creating a tranquil state with not only the notes, but the space between the notes. This guy seems to be able to control both space and time. On this track I loved the weightless drifting feel of the solos. Each note with a voice of it's own. This is where we see Greg go from destroyer to creator, madman to genius! Oh! Man! Beautiful.......... TRACK #5 'Skitzophraniac' - I love this track, alright I love the whole CD. But this is the way I like it. There's always a new twist that you just don't see coming. And anyone who has actually read my reviews knows how much I like being blind sided musically. TRACK #6 'Uncle Knucklez' - An infectious groovathon that turns like a mad dog and bites you in the ass, shifting between smooth smokin' Jazz and smolderin' Metal. This track is tighter than a pair of Britney you know who's hiphuggers. The odd time changes make this danceable track contrast the bodies natural timing. So if you try bopping your head to this one, you better be ready for a neck brace..... TRACK #7 'Flatline' - Whoa..this is what I'm talking about. This song shows Greg at his softest, and some of his hardest. A beautiful, spiritually moving song with a couple of surprise attacks where the 'beautiful' turns brutal, and the 'moving' means run! At a full 9:47 this track still wasn't long enough for me. Greg ends the song with a sound bite of the heart monitor flatline____. To remind you that it's a beautiful song, but it's an odd beauty. TRACK #8 'Interlude-B' - Greg is clearly an amazing Jazz player, so I was indeed pleased to see him include a real Jazz number. In Greg's own inimitable style he challenges the boundaries, but he keeps it Jazz, smokin' and sweet. Mercy me...that's a deep groove! The good time feel and the funky danceability draw you immediately under it power. (a side note* It's also a very cool song to play air guitar to. For real fun try the bass line.) A radio friendly song that instantly feels comfortable.. TRACK #9 'Deceiving The Industry' - This song shifts back and forth between a wall of industrial metal and a very pleasant Rock groove. The outro solo on this one is breath taking. I think I heard a little classical influence too. TRACK #10 'Difunckt' - Remember how on the track 'Interlude-B' above I said how much I like Greg's Jazz playing. And how on that track he stayed within the boundaries. OK, this is another great Jazz song, but forget the boundaries, there are none. Greg plays this Jazz song with a real Metal influence and piercing solos. This one begs to be turned up to '11'. TRACK #11 'Dinner And Dancing' - I don't know about dinner, but he's got the dancing part right. A white hot funkified and obviously danceable song. I can picture BB Kings Horns behind this, with BB and Greg trading off. It's got that kinda funky blues feel that makes you want to shake something..It's in you and it's gotta come out. TRACK #12 'No Solace' - Maaan! This one comes at you like an angry pitbull out for vengeance. No Solace indeed, this track leaves you nowhere to hide. I was hoping for one no holds barred all out attack song. This is exactly what I was hoping for, Greg unleashed with an attitude and six strings to back it up. Greg does give you time to rest. It's only after 5 minutes of relentless assault though. For the next 3 minutes Greg takes you on a smooth ride through a dark intricately woven background, making you feel safe but unsure. But as the title might suggest, you're not safe. And in a split second move, Greg comes in for the kill. I didn't even see it coming! -John Hokanson, The Guitarists.com Greg is a seven-string guitarist whose musical focus is a combination of instrumental progressive-metal and jazz-fusion. Currently living in Cortland, New York (Northern Westchester County), he writes and records his own material in his project studio. Influences A seasoned player of 25 years Greg has grown into a competent songwriter and soloist. His influences include Scott Henderson, Allan Holdsworth, Greg Howe and Jimmy Page. Also influential in Greg's development is his work in area bands. Teaching part time has also helped widen his scope musically while providing many new and different musical perspectives.