Sound — 9
Rusty Cooley is a god, though I only recently heard his band Outworld, which took some getting accustomed to since I prefer much heavier stuff. They would be described as a progressive metal band, but don't let that fool you, as in truth their music is very unique, containing melodic and thrash along with other many elements. The guitar playing is intricate, creative, blazing, and just beyond comprehension, which is obviously what we can expect from Rusty. The shredding in the solos is also plentiful, though Rusty does not do it excessively and keeps it in context with the songs and style of music. To be impressed, check out the short but unbelievably speedy guitar solo in The Never, in fact, check out all the songs and solos. This album is full of killer and catchy chops and riffs, both rhythm and lead, that will keep you listening over and over.
Lyrics — 9
I don't care too much for lyrics/lyrical content of any kind, being mainly music-orientated, but the way a song is sung is another matter. The second I heard Carlos Zema's screams a-la-Rob Halford (who Zema cites as an amazing singer) on the track Warcry, I was blown away. The penetrating voice of Zema balances the low 7-string riffs nicely and commands as much attention as does Rusty's godlike guitar work. Near the end of the music video for Warcry, Zema also gives us some nice growling, which proves he is more versatile than some may think. However, you won't really run into any of it on the album, which is slightly regretful. It's a great pity that we won't be hearing this amazing singer on Outworld's next album.
Overall Impression — 10
As far as guitar is concerned, it's similar to Meshuggah or Nevermore, (though don't be expecting raw sonic brutality like Meshuggah), while the overall sound is similar to Symphony X or Dream Theatre. Ex-singer Carlos Zema also stated a reason for leaving was that after this album Rusty wanted to write more "Meshuggah-sounding music" which made it difficult for him. My three favorite songs on this album are Warcry, Raise Hell and The Never, though most shredding-loving listeners of Rusty Cooley will probably enjoy Riders in its blistering arpeggio entirety. Besides from wishing that the guitars were a bit louder in the mix and the overall sound was a bit heavier, I pretty much consider this one of the most comprehensively kick-ass albums I've heard. If it got lost or deleted, yes, I'm a terrible person and downloaded it since I live in China where it is not available, I would certainly download it again, though if you CAN buy it, do. With a multitude of big names in guitar already praising Rusty Cooley's solo work, and John Petrucci stating that this was one of his favorite albums for that year, this is an album you don't want to miss out on.