It’s hard to imagine that the same artist that created Controlled Chaos has also shared a stage with Jermaine Jackson, but that’s the beauty of an artist like Nita Strauss. One dimensional she really isn’t. Dig deep enough into her back catalogue and you’re bound to take something pique your interest.
Controlled Chaos marks Strauss’ first foray as a solo artist and it does exactly what It says on the tin. Let’s face it you don’t carry around the nickname ‘The Hurricane’ for nothing. From front to back, the album is a whirlwind of swirling guitar riffs, crunching drum rhythms and bucket loads of passion.
Speaking on the upcoming release the L.A native comments
“From bright and fun to aggressive and dark, from peaceful to chaotic, this album is a way for me to give the listener a glimpse into my personality and what goes on inside my mind.”
You can be forgiven for approaching the release described as ‘rock instrumental’ with more than a little trepidation. It’s not like the genre has always had the best reputation. With those words conjuring up memories of eight minute Prog songs from the seventies with no real structure that all blur into one. Yet, here that stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth.
One of the strengths of this album is its structure. Each song has a defined beginning, middle and end and the result is a fantastically cohesive body of work. ‘Prepare For War’ serves as the perfect introduction to Strauss’ carnival of madness and there’s no looking back from there. Songs like ‘Alegria,’ ‘Mariana Trench’ and the Churchillian sounding ‘Our Most Desperate Hour’ are all about impact. They’re driven by piston-like drums and of course some exceptional shredding. However, there’s more to this record that just crash, bang wallop.
‘The Stillness At The End’ hints at a softer, mellower side before an intricate piano-led intro is launched out the window. But that diversity is explored more fully with ‘Here With You’ and ‘Hope Grows.’ Although the former does come across as a little half-hearted. There’s always the lingering feeling that it could dig a little deeper to hit that emotional sweet spot.
Normal service is resumed with the arrival of ‘Lion Among Wolves’ and an almost theatrical style cover of the Queen classic ‘The Show Must Go On.’ With the first of those tracks in particular being nothing short of outstanding. It’s gritty, it’s powerful and if it doesn’t have you bobbing your head rock music isn’t for you.
Controlled Chaos feels like a project that achieves exactly what it set out to do. It’s supposed to be a journey encompassing emotion and moods from all across the spectrum and it does both of those things with ease. As mentioned above ‘Here With You’ feels shallow and the drumming can come across as a little samey in places, but those are only minor quibbles.
This album does nothing but further cement Strauss’ reputation as one of the premier guitarists in the world right now. The best guitarists have an ability to make you feel things with their playing and that’s exactly what she does here. You don’t just hear the songs, you feel them, and for an instrumental album to work that is vital.
Rarely as a listener do you get everything that you’re promised, but you do here, and then some. That’s what makes listening to Controlled Chaos such a rewarding experience.