Rabea Massaad – ‘Grinding Gears’ (EP Review)
As one of the Internet’s leading guitar personalities, Rabea Massaad is widely recognized by six-string aficionados worldwide as…well…a bit fucking good. A total, authoritative master of rock and metal playing with a unique, immediately recognisable style of his own, this guy knows his shit. Bea (pronounced like “beer”) is also a key member of long-term personal favourites Dorje and Toska – a pair of bands already making an impact on the online rock, metal, and instrumental prog scenes.
Most musicians would be happy to just be part of such epic bands and focus on building those brands – but given the fact that modern musicians have to rely on multiple income streams in order to make a living, recording and releasing music and even playing shows is not enough to pay the bills. Besides that, Rabea Massaad first came to the Internet’s attention as the protégé of one Rob Chapman – owner of Chapman guitars, Dorje frontman, prolific gear demonstrator, YouTube guitar celebrity, and all-around dude. Bea has also established himself as a guru-like gearhead, and that’s where this EP comes in.
Grinding Gears is a collection of tracks originally used to demonstrate various guitar-related gadgets. However, as a set of instrumental guitar pieces Grinding Gears still works incredibly well – so much so that this EP in itself has the potential to establish Rabea Massaad as a serious contender in the instrumental guitar arena, full stop. It’s also worth noting that Bea played all the instruments you hear on Grinding Gears, not just the guitar parts.
Your standard wank-over-a-MIDI-backing-track masturbatathon, this is not.
Throughout this mass of intense grooves, jawbreaking riffage, and complex progressive flourishes, Massaad’s passion, virtuosity, and sense of joy shine through with exceptional clarity. Brute Force’s epic 7/8 section, Sunset’s metric headfuckery, Old Guard’s classic rock mashup, and the just plain ridiculous pinch harmonics present on The Rags are all easy highlights – as is the relatively short but fucking badass Horizon, originally put together to showcase Periphery mastermind Misha Mansoor’s Horizon Precision Drive effect pedal. Check out Siggy Pop for some Guthrie Govan-grade shred lines as well – it’s a serious beast.
Now that this EP is out there, and bearing in mind that Rabea Massaad is currently approaching 30, I can’t help but think of Joe Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien. Released when Satch was 31, you have to ask…would Bea be up for the challenge of producing a piece of work aspiring to that ultimate standard of perfection? In my eyes, it’s completely achievable – and with a new Dorje album, a fresh Toska release, and the promise of more afrocentric solo work in the future, it’s clear that despite all he’s already done, Rabea Massaad is only just getting started.
LTK RATING: 90% (Essential Listening!)
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