Sound: There's something to be said about creating music organically, i.e., through the tried-and-true jam session. That's essentially where the first seeds of Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats' were sown, without the pressure of record execs breathing down anyone's back. When Smith (the drummer of Red Hot Chili Peppers' fame), guitarist Jeff Kollman (Cosmosquad), and keyboardist Ed Roth were brought together to help out Glenn Hughes' latest project, the trio immediately found a musical connection during rehearsals. With Kevin Chown (Ted Nugent) on bass to complete the band, Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats were born and are now delivering the monstrous dose of funk that had been missing from the Red Hot Chili Peppers for awhile.
With the instrumental debut CD Meet The Meatbats, you essentially have four highly competent, talented musicians who are making an album for the shear love of it. While Smith is the most nationally known of the musicians (and has spending plenty of time with his other impressive venture Chickenfoot), by the end of the CD it is actually Kollman and Roth who are the standouts. The band selected the perfect tune for the opener, Need Strange, which feels almost like a modern-day Stevie Wonder offering. The keyboard work from Chown has that old-school Wonder attack, while every other element is funkified to the nth degree. The track takes a brief turn toward the raw with the introduction of more distorted guitar effects from Kollman, but the funk comes back full circle.
The remaining 9 tracks oscillate between having a funky style and a mellower, almost adult contemporary sound. They're all extremely listenable, and the instrumentation is amazing. The Battle For Ventura, although having a title that sounds straight off of a Rage Against The Machine record, is one of the more laid-back tracks. At times having a smooth jazz approach to the guitar work (don't get scared away yet), The Battle For Ventura makes for a nice balance to the high-energy, danceable Need Stange. Other highlights include Death Match, which again oozes funk, and the Spanish-influenced Lola, which accentuates Kollman's classical solo work. // 9
Lyrics: Meet The Meatbats is an instrumental CD from start to finish, so no lyrics to analyze this time around. // 10
Overall Impression: As far as Smith goes, this latest side project doesn't attempt to have any semblance to Red Hot Chili Peppers. There is certainly the funk connection, but the genre is approached in a much more structured way than the Chili Peppers ever tackled. Meet The Meatbats is far from just a funk album, however, and you can hear an assortment of influences coming through each track. The band even has a tune titled Into The Floyd, which although does have a David Gilmour vibe in many ways, never attempts to be a carbon copy of any Pink Floyd song. It's in that particular track that the traditional piano skills of Ed Roth come to the forefront as well. Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats won't necessarily be Top-40 friendly due to the very fact that they write only instrumentals, but this is still one act that shouldn't remain under the radar. // 9