Points North is an instrumental rock trio, based around an excellent guitarist, Eric Barnett. Barnett is the founder of the band he started after participating as a finalist in Guitar Player magazine's Superstar competition. On Road Less Traveled, their debut album released in 2012, Barnett is accompanied by a strong rhythm section. Drummer Kevin Aiello and bassist Uriah Duffy, who has played for five years as a member of Whitesnake, are both gifted musicians who perfectly match Barnett's melodic hard rock style. Their self-titled second album holds besides ten instrumental compositions, one vocal track; Colorblind.
Musically the album takes the best of instrumental hard rock and adds hunches of metal and blues rock, some fusion and a handful of progressive rock to the mix. One of the influences is absolutely Steve Morse, the distinguished style from his (Dixie) Dregs and solo period clearly can be recognized in Barnett's solo parts. Opener Ignition is the perfect example of Points North's interpretation of Steve Morse's music. Another master that has left his mark on Barnett's playing is Joe Satriani, during a song like Child's Play Barnett uses his self-created style, to pay tribute to the great Satriani. Duffy also shines on many occasions; Rites Of Passage has great bass playing which goes perfectly along the intense guitar melodies of this song. Grooving is perhaps the keyword for a lot of compositions on the album, like in Killer Pounder and many other tunes. The way these songs are build; a rhythm section searching for the perfect vibe or groove to let the guitar shine over it, but still the album does not sound like a typical guitar hero album. Points North is a tight band, where also bass and drums get their moments to shine. The interaction between the instruments, specifically the way the bass interacts with the guitar lifts this album up from the regular guitar CD. Progressive influences sometimes refer to the Canadian super trio Rush; their specific style is a bit harder to notice, but Barrett does tribute Rush in a gentle way all along the album. Listen carefully and you certainly hear those subtle gestures. The vocal track Colorblind is a nice blues rock influenced hard rock song, including a wonderful guitar solo and again groovy bass parts.
Points North definitely is a band that deserves to be heard, luckily not the typical band that only praises their guitarist, but work as a trio to pursue musical perfection. For me the album is a very pleasant one to listen to and I can recommend not only the guitar nerds to listen to Points North, any rock fans and open minded progressive rock listeners should find something of his or her liking on this accessible and interesting album.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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