Addnerim’s The Potential Threat

By Ken Shimamoto

After witnessing an Addnerim performance at fonky Fred’s last year, Carey Wolff was heard to remark, “That boy sure likes to play his guitar.” The boy in question was Tyrel Choat, Addnerim’s guitarist-singer-songwriter, and Carey’s assessment would probably qualify as the understatement of the year.

See, it seems as though, when it comes to musical ability, the bar gets raised every half-generation or so, to the point where downy-cheeked lads can now shred circles around grizzled old pros. I know, I know – that has nothing to do with soul/feeling/depth, but whatevah. The point is, thar be youngsters out there who can do stuff on their respective axes that’s downright scary, and Addnerim -- which also includes Tyrel’s li’l bro Dustin on bass and childhood pal Damien Keith Grober, who took up the drums to help Tyrel realize his vision -- is proof positive (as if any more were needed) of the verity of this dictum.

When these three do the voodoo that they do – which is a chops-heavy but also musical form of pummeling prog-metal, well represented on their recently-released CD The Potential Threat -- you can tell they’ve been living in each other’s back pockets for quite some time now; they’re that tight. Ty throws down the gauntlet in “Silverburst,” and you get the feeling he means it: “I want precision in every aspect of / Craftsmanship is the key, it ensures the quality.”

I first encountered Tyrel at Lee and Carl’s jam (Wednesday nights at the Wreck Room, while it lasts). My first response was, “Whothehell is this kid playing note-for-note perfect renditions of Rush classics and Shuggie Otis’ funk-lite chestnut ‘Strawberry Letter 23’?” It sounds trite to say, but music really is Tyrel’s life: he works on guitars at Zoo Music off Camp Bowie; toured with the Underground Railroad as roadie/merch shill; is always in the front row at other bands’ gigs, his devil sign thrust high; has been known to volunteer his services as emergency guitar tech for fellow musos when they’re needed.

Tyrel apparently teethed on Yngwie Malmsteen rekkids (you know, the way some parents’ll play Bach for their babies, thinking it’ll make ‘em smarter) -- dig the wild nut-to-bridge arpeggios he rips on The Potential Threat’s closing tour de force “Astronomy” -- and he’s also clearly absorbed the influences of tricky axe-slingers like fleet-fingered Allan Holdsworth (or is that Underground Railroad progfather Bill Pohl I’m hearing in his solo on “Merchants?”) and Iron Maiden’s terrifying tandem of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith (the cascading overdubbed harmonies on “Silverburst” and “Opener”).

Ty’s saving grace is that his guitar gymnastics are always well integrated into the fabric of the songs, so even his most remarkable rides never sound like mere grandstanding, and he can play with taste and restraint that are unusual for such a young fire-breather (f’rinstance, the octave pedal solo – or is that unison guitar and bass? -- around six minutes into “Astronomy”). He sings well, too, in a serviceable Everykid’s croon that can rise to a roar when necessary without resorting to that “I-took-voice-lessons-from-Satan” shtick that makes a lot of metal vocalismo so laughable. Behind him, the riddim boyzzz negotiate tricky time signatures and dynamic shifts with aplomb.

Addnerim is also a band with a Message, and this works both for and against them. Tyrel’s heartfelt screeds champion individuality (“Against the Current,” “Evolution,” the anthemic “Opener”) while decrying media manipulation (could that be a Stooges reference when he sings “We are in the TV Eye” in “Media Ministry?”), technology and consumerism (“Merchants”). Sound and fury, signifying nothing, this clearly ain’t. However, any metal band that uses the line “You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t” in a song lyric is practically begging for Spinal Tap-inspired ha-has, and if Tyrel Choat doesn’t see the irony in lashing himself to the mast and roaring “Open your mind, think for yourself” into the energy wave of a head-banging crowd – well, it’s not his job to worry about that, is it?

Finally, The Potential Threat is a great-sounding record. Kudos are due to the band’s co-producer Barry Saling, who recorded the album in a year’s worth of sessions at two different studios and gave the band a soundscape of sufficient depth and dimension to accommodate the full dynamic range of their sonic blast. Listening to this disc, it’s not hard to imagine the next generation of Fort Worth shredaholics five or ten years from now remembering, “Yeah, I learned how to play from the Addnerim record.”

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