The Raptor Trail
Devil on an Indian
The trio from North Carolina is making new noise with great blows of guitars. John Meyer and Matthew Mayes, both bassists and guitarists with twenty-five years between them, always have the unscathed desire to inscribe their compositions on cd. They have already done this twice as The Raptor Trail with The Raptor Trail in 2015 and New World in 2016; a very productive duo indeed. The trio is also composed of drummer Gene H. Bass, a longtime friend of Mayes and Meyer whom he played with in Jupiter Coyote. The playing style is always very eclectic, and one can hear Pink Floyd, The Allman Brothers, Wishbone Ash, and Rush: all guitar-based groups since the force of Raptor comes from its six chords. It is a concept album about the tangled history of someone with American ancestry that is as white as it is Indian; he is raised by whites but attracted to Christian beliefs.
Being a concept album does not prevent one from listening to any title without following the chronological order. “Ten Bears” is ultra melodic and based on a vital mixture of acoustic and electric guitar placed on a rather plaintive voice. Already, we are entitled to the famous solo that hits the nail on the head without being effusive.
Reminiscent of Wishbone Ash's vocals and guitar on How The West Was Born, the rhythmic knocking does an excellent job. Guitar lovers will be in heaven. The riffs are boiling with “Quaker Pets”: of power, without a doubt, but so well worked and perfected that it becomes full of feeling.
Also admirable is “Dream Catcher,” a title based on percussion: congas and bongos behave in harmony with guest RAPA, with rollings of toms and a final quasi-floydian effect under the pedals. Pink Floyd is present next on “Wolf Medicine,” finished with one of the most beautiful and long solos ever heard, as if it was done by Gary Moore. As always it is the question of guitar with “Doorstep,” but it is rather emotional, and the singing is situated in the same line.
The south of the USA is represented by “Froth Squelch,” with its undeniable Allman aspect. The title denounces the hypocrisy of religion and its preachers. The cry of a coyote introduces the acoustic ballad “Without a Trace,” which is folksy like we like it, and admirably played and sung, with an acoustic that resembles Hot Tuna.
It’s Edwin McCain who sings on “Vanishing Point,” where the Les Paul and Stratocaster collide into a fusion. The finale with “Red Giant” is very delicious, with an elegant and artistic way of knocking you off your feet. Also the bass, which is heavy-hitting, assures and slams, like pure Rush.
West Coast, Southern Rock, Prog Rock, Guitar Rock: nothing stops them and we will do nothing to stop them; we are content to listen. On certain titles, keyboards are credited, but they are difficult to hear.
DRAWN BY THE SOUNDS OF THE DESERT
MARCH 3, 2017 ANGEL ROMERO
The Raptor Trail – “Devil on an Indian” (indie release, 2016)
“Devil on an Indian” by American rock band The Raptor Trail is a concept album about a young man that struggles with his American Indian heritage after being raised in a Christian family. The story mirrors the experience of multi-instrumentalist Matt Mayes. Although he has paternal and maternal Native American ancestry, he was raised by a white Protestant family.
Musically, The Raptor Trail crosses various rock genres with ease. The band plays a mix of classic rock, hard rock and sometimes ventures into progressive rock (“Wolf Medicine”) and other territories like in the piece “Dream Catcher” that has a trance-like tribal ambient feel.
The Raptor Trail’s sound is characterized by the outstanding vocals and remarkable solo guitar work of John Meyer, as well as the sound of a new hybrid instrument named guijo. The guijo was developed by Matt Mayes. It has an electric guitar body and a banjo neck.
The album ends with an apocalyptic explosion of the sun featuring a mix of rock band instrumentation and numerous sound effects.
The lineup includes Gene Bass on drums and percussion; Matt Mayes on vocals, guijo, acoustic guitars and banjo; and John Meyer on lead and background vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, and bass.
Review by G. W. Hill
The prog rock these guys do is very much guitar oriented. It's modern, but has its roots in classic prog, too. I suppose the closest comparison is to Echolyn, but that's not a tight fit, either. However you define it, though, this is an exceptional release.
Track by Track Review
Some very atmospheric stuff makes up the beginning of this. Then organ joins. A bit of a crunchy element is added to the mix for a short time. From there it works to more of a melodic prog turned alternative rock vibe takes over for the vocals. This is definitely classy stuff. There are some powered up movements that really soar on this thing. The guitar soloing is particularly meaty, too. I really love this song. It's a perfect way to start things in style. There is a thing at the end that sounds like a construction site.
How the West Was Won
I love the killer melodic rock groove that starts this piece. There is some really amazing instrumental work on this thing. It rocks like crazy and is high energy and tastefully unusual. If I were to compare to anything, it would probably be Echolyn. A percussion segment segues this into the next one.
A mellow bit starts this. Then a hard rocking guitar brings it into a different territory altogether. There is definitely more of a melodic prog vibe as it continues. There is a cool instrumental excursion that gives way to some screaming hot stuff. The alternation between mellower and more rocking as this continues is great. The closing hard edged jam is purely amazing.
The sounds of a police chase start in the previous cut and continue into this number. Then some percussion based music brings it into being from there. This remains mellow and quite percussive, but gets involved. Some melody comes across ever so gradually. There is kind of a weird space rock bit later. It's noisy and echoey and moves from one speaker to another. Up until that point, though, this instrumental was mostly a percussion workout. Even so, it's more a textural atmospheric thing even then. That's not to say it's not cool, because it definitely is. It runs straight into the next piece.
As this comes into being, ir's mid-tempo and feels very much like mellow, melodic fusion. The guitar soloing is very expressive. Here is another track that makes good use of the contrast between mellower and more rocking stuff. The verses are the mellower things, feeling very ballad-like and quite pretty. the heavy sections land somewhere between heavy metal and Pink Floyd bombast. This is another powerhouse song that's just so cool.
Imagine Echolyn mixed with Spock's Beard. You might be pretty close to the sound of this cut. It's very mainstream, but it's definitely prog. It is another with a nice balance between louder and softer sounds. It's great melodic prog rocker.
The groove that opens this is almost funky. There is almost a bit of Sly Stone here. Yet, overall the cut lands in the same modern prog territory as we've heard throughout this cut. It is just such a great tune. In fact, this is one of my favorites here. Given the competition, that says a lot. There are some great hard rocking moments here, but the whole thing is exceptional, so that should be no surprise.
Without a Trace
This starts with the sounds of a train and a howling wolf in the distance. Then guitar joins and we're on our way. This is essentially a modern proggy version of a power ballad. It seems like the first half of a song completed by the next piece.
The Vanishing Point
More powered up and hard rocking, this is a killer modern prog tune. It's very energized and classy. It is balanced with mellower dropped down sections, too. That's almost a Raptor Trail trademark. So are scorching hot melodic guitar solos, like the one in the midst of this cut.
Hard rocking as heck, this is also very much a prog piece. As much as I like a lot of the other stuff, this is very much the highlight of the set. That makes it a great choice to close the disc. To me it's part metal and part the more rocking side of Pink Floyd.
Music From the Other Side of the Room
This is a band that has slipped under my radar. The Raptor Trail are a band from North Carolina that have released two albums and have released last year a concept album entitled, Devil On An Indian. It’s a story about internal spiritual warfare that comes from a young man who is coming to grips of his Native American Indian heritage after being raised in the 21stcentury white Christian morality after a severe motorcycle accident.
The album is set in three movements. The album has a powerful story with a sad ending of a young man going through the motions of what he notices and realizes that this is not what he has expected in the future. It is suddenly a dystopian society that is headed for an apocalypse. The music itself is staggering from beginning to end. The band considers Gene Bass on Drums and Percussion, Matt Mayes on Vocals, Guijo, Acoustic Guitar, and Banjo, and John Meyer on Vocals, Guitar, Effects, Keyboards, and Bass.
Ten Bears opens the track with a Hammond Organ and roaring electric guitar that bursts through the flood gates like a bat out of hell as the composition goes through an alternative acoustic rock as the music and lyrics reminisces of Pearl Jam’s Ten-era along with Quaker Pets. With its heavy riffs and trying to run away from the past, present, and future, there’s no turning back with an embracing and melodic texture.
But it’s Dream Catcher that made my eyebrows go up. It has these ominous banjo chords and the thundering drums and percussion atmosphere with an ending that is chilling and eerie featuring eerie keyboards and alarming guitars. It brings to mind the ‘70s Space Rock sounds of Ash Ra Tempel’s Manuel Gottsching and Aphrodite’s Child’s 666.
The closer Red Giant is where everything turns into an apocalyptic nightmare. You have this climatic volcanic roar of the Bass and Guitar with a harmonic soundings as the motorcycle revs up and driving into the night before ending with the pandemonium beginning and the explosion hitting for the nightmare to begin of annihilation.
Now is this a great album? No. Powerful and Mind-Blowing? In a roundabout way, yes. Devil on an Indian is an astounding album I’ve listened to this year. The story and music along with the lyrics will capture you to know that they aren’t showing off, but giving you a lot of power and glory throughout the concept. So I recommend checking them out.
Sea of Tranquility DOAI Review
Here is another nice surprise from 2016. The band is The Raptor Trail hailing from North Carolina and combine an interesting mixture of retro progressive and southern rock. Some have compared their southern stylings to The Allman Brothers Band but you could also add Lynyrd Skynyrd as well. The trio consists of Gene Bass (drums and percussion), Matt Mayes (vocals, guijo, acoustic guitars, banjo) and John Meyer (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, effects). In the spring of 2016 the band released their sophomore effort New World and just this past fall have returned with their third release Devil On An Indian.
This is a concept album about a young Indian boy coming to terms with his Native heritage after a severe motorcycle accident. Themes of 21st century America, Christianity, assimilation and morality all crop up. This is a well thought out story but for me it's all about the music and in a word it is excellent. A layer of organ and feedback laden guitar riffs begin the album opening track "Ten Bears". The music transitions between catchy acoustic rhythms and heavier riffs culminating with some nice lead work. "How The West Was Won" mixes acoustic and knife edged electric guitar infused with a hint of psychedelia. This is another track that had me hooked right from the start. Layers of heavy guitar riffs begin "Quaker Pets", another catchy tune. Mellow arpeggio guitar, sublime backing vocals and southern hard rock can all be heard. "Dream Catcher" is one of the stranger tracks featuring mostly drums, percussion and ethereal strums of banjo. Later on the guitar and keyboard effects are as trippy as the album gets.
One of the best songs has to be "Wolf Medicine" opening with crystal clear guitar sounding similar to vintage Mark Knopfler. The music builds gently taking its time until the ending guitar solo brings the song to a stunning conclusion.
The Devil On An Indian is another fine album in what has been a very strong year for music. If you like intelligent rock music with thoughtful lyrical themes, fine melodies and strong song craft you should really give this one a listen.
The Raptor Trail- Devil On An Indian
Devil On An Indian
"Devil On An Indian," from the US group The Raptor Trail, is a concept album talking about the spiritual dilemmas of a young man - an American of Indian origin who grew up in the spirit of Christian morality. A motorcycle accident in the desert (which almost ends in the death of the main character) is the beginning of poetic, mystical and spiritual pathways and awakening self-awareness leading to the conclusion that human nature is inherently full of evil. The story is divided into ten tracks grouped in three parts that fill the CD which lasts just over an hour.
It might seem that an album immersed in the philosophical and religious considerations is something inherently heavy and indigestible. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Raptor Trail tells the story with a quite plainly sounding music, but I immediately realize that we are not dealing with music that isn't American mainstream pop or "Christian prog rock", but rather with bold trips to the alternative-rock world and even progressive-psychedelic territories, sometimes even sounds of Indian ethnic music.
All this is happening because of considerable experience from the musicians forming the group The Raptor Trail. John Meyer (v, g, bg, k) and Matt Mayes (v, g) have been present on the American scene for nearly 25 years, and "Devil On An Indian" is the third album of the The Raptor Trail trio which also includes drummer Gene Bass.
Their latest album is full of stylistic references to the music of the 70s. Lots of good guitar playing here, with some alluding directly to the production of The Allman Brothers. A lot of it is also psychedelia with musical experiments decorated in the spirit of world music (heavily exposed, played drums ethnic sounds in the "Dream Catcher"), but soon they are offset by the lyrical and melodic fragments ("Dream Catcher" followed by the soothing ballad "Wolf Medicine"). There are also many moments of guitar "madness" (but beware! The Raptor Trail not for a moment goes into metal!). The best example are the songs "How The West Was Won" and "Quaker Pets". The band plays with temperament, sometimes going into jam ("Froth Squelch") with enchanting riffs and good energy groove'em. "Without A Trace" delights with vocal harmonies, and "Red Giant" builds epic atmosphere (as well as in "The Vanishing Point").
Perhaps this is not a groundbreaking album, but it is an outstanding album. I guarantee that you will feel good when you listen to this joyful musical experience. Therefore, if you desire a powerful, losing the hair on your head, crazy trip with classical sounds experience straight from the 70s in a first-class scenario, be sure to please play the album "Devil On An Indian" while turning up your volume. Fasten your seat belts and let yourself drift through the magical sounds filling this new album by the Raptor Trail...
After releasing their critically acclaimed New World record the melodic prog trio known as The Raptor Trail (www.theraptortrail.com) has rolled out Devil on an Indian. This 10 track CD is a concept project telling the tale of a young man's spiritual journey as he deals with his Native American Indian heritage and his Christian up-bringing. A serious motorcycle accident in the desert takes him down a mystical and poetic path that is told in three musical movements by The Raptor Trail. "Ten Bears" the opening track has a heavy reflective mood that showcases the band's skill and storytelling punctuated by solid guitar solos. This pattern paired with mini jams is effectively used throughout this platter. "Dream Catcher" in part two is a drummer's dream with its persuasive percussion patterns. Part three features intense instrumentation to bring this thematic CD to a fine but not necessarily happy close. Devil on an Indian is an insightful record with plenty of twists and turns to keep the listener intrigued...
Raptor TrailDevil On An Indian
Record Label: MBM Entertainment
Review by Sal Serio
The third release from North Carolina’s melodic prog rock trio The Raptor Trail is a full-on concept album written by multi-instrumentalist Matt Mayes, which details an internal clash between Native American spirituality and 21st century white Christian morality, and inevitably results in an apocalyptic conclusion.
While the theme is intense and demands a certain amount of rapt attention, the music is an overall uplifting and diversely varied experience, featuring instrumentation ranging from the conventional guitar/bass/drums, to the more esoteric guijo, banjo, and various keyboards/effects/percussion. Combining the fascinating storyline with this creative and extremely high level of musicianship results in a special mixture that brings to mind the best works of rockers like Rush or Max Webster, along with the roots music and poetic activism of Bruce Cockburn and John Trudell. The vocals of Matt Mayes, John Meyer, and special guest Edwin McCain keep the proceedings enjoyable and accessible to fans of a multitude of rock music genres.
While the ‘Devil On An Indian’ concept is best taken in as a whole, there are also several tracks that stand on their own strength. My recommendations are “Quaker Pets”, “Froth Squelch”, “The Vanishing Point”, and “Red Giant”.
THE RAPTOR TRAIL
"DEVIL ON AN INDIAN"
I must confess, when this album arrived at Compton Towers, I hadn't the remotest idea who the Raptor Trail was. Though described as a "Melodic Rock Trio" by some promotional commentators, one mustn't neglect to include the term "Progressive", as that's what they are first and foremost.
"Devil On An Indian" is TRT's third album, following on their 2015 self-titled debut and their sophmore opus "New World" in the Spring of 2016. Despite this recent hive of creativity, the musicians involved are certainly not without experience. Matthew B. Mayes (vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitars, banjo & guijo) and co-founder John M. Meyer (acoustic, slide, fret-less & electric guitars, bass, strings, keys, vocals & background vocals) have known each other for over two decades, kicking around the idea of one day creating a music entity such as TRT. Now with the addition of Gene H. Bass (drums, percussion), they are living their dream and producing music that could be described as a synthesis of the Allman Brothers, The Eagles, Dire Straits and (unsurprisingly) Pink Floyd. If it's dark, heavy Prog you're after, then maybe this isn't for you, but please give it a chance!
"Devil..." is a concept album telling the story (through superb vocalisations) of a "young man coming to grips with his Native American heritage after being raised with Christian morality". Tormented by this all-consuming dichotomy, he travels by motorcycle through the desert in search of answers. Those answers arrive quicker than he anticipated when he collides with an "object". Despite all ten tracks segueing into each other, the opus has three distinct parts; before the crash, the immediate aftermath (including a metaphysical awakening) and finally, an apocalyptic decent of the mind.
"Ten Bears", "How The West Was Won" and "Quaker Pets" set the scene. Semi-acoustic and clean electric guitars, backed by a deep rhythm section provide a haunting atmosphere that slowly builds as it pre-empts the "accident". Post-accident "Dream Catcher" is a wonderful percussion-led instrumental that segues into "Wolf Medicine" and "Doorstep", the former displaying traits from the latter stages of Floyd's "The Wall". The guitar histrionics throughout replicate some of David Gilmour and Mark Knopfler's finest work. The concluding subdivision of this tale, "Froth Squelch", "Without a Trace", "The Vanishing Point" and "Red Giant" bring the journey to a more intensive, up-tempo finale.
In short, "Devil On An Indian" is a captivating and classy album.
Title - 'Devil On An Indian'
Artist - The Raptor Trail
The Raptor Trail have been slowly plotting their course over the last 25 plus years. Founding members John Meyer and Matthew Mayes had been kicking around the idea of recording something together for decades. Finally in 2014, the planets aligned and the idea actually transcended into a studio recording project which later came to be called The Raptor Trail.
"The Raptor Trail" was actually the first song that Meyer and Mayes wrote together for the project, and it snowballed from there, with “Gravity x Ten” following, and then ten more songs over the course of the next year.
Their self titled album which was released in May 2015 received a warm reception from diehard Jupiter Coyote fans, as well as many publications from the Progressive rock side of the scale. Then in 2016 they released their sophomore album, New World, which found the band stretching it's musical wings with particular attention to vocal harmonies and acoustic based themes.
Now, and veritably hot on the heels of that critically-acclaimed second album, melodic prog trio The Raptor Trail have just released their brand new third album, Devil On An Indian.
The Raptor Trail comprises of: Gene H. Bass - Drums, Percussion; Matthew B. Mayes - Vocals, Guijo, Acoustic Guitars, Acoustic Banjo; and John M. Meyer - Lead, Slide, Fretless & Acoustic Guitars, G-Strings, Bass, Weird Noises, Background Vocals, and all come together quite like never before on this massively constructed concept album.
You see, Devil On An Indian deals with the internal spiritual warfare that stems from a young man coming to grips with his Native American Indian heritage after being raised in 21st century white Christian morality. A near life ending motorcycle accident in the desert continues a mystical, poetic, and spiritual journey of self awareness and understanding, concluding that the heart of man is inherently evil.
Set to 10 songs in three movements that seamlessly segue from one song to another, ending with the apocalyptic demise of the world (!), we ease in with the storytelling of "Ten Bears" before "How the West Was Won" and the guitar fest of "Quaker Pets" come forth.
The thought provoking, evocative slap hands-on-drums "Dream Catcher" is easily one of my own personal favorites here, and that's backed by the beautiful "Wolf Medicine", the soaring "Doorstep", and both the interestingly titled "Froth Squelch" and distant memories of "Without a Trace". This terrific album then wraps up with a powerful duo in both "The Vanishing Point" and then the full tilt ride of "Red Giant".
JP's Music Blog
From North Carolina comes the latest release titled "Devil On An Indian" from progressive rock trio The Raptor Trail. The concept of the new album deals with a young man coming to grips with his Native American heritage after being raised with Christian morality. The new ten-song release begins with "Ten Bears," which sounds like an outtake from the Allman Brothers Band as the song's southern rock groove gets highlighted by some exceptional guitar solos. The Raptor Trail deliver some more amazing guitar work on "How The West Was Won" and get heavier with the hard rock delivery of "Quaker Pets." The rhythmic tone of "Dream Catcher" gives off a Native American Indian feel, while the band expand upon their sound with the atmospheric eight-minutes of "Wolf Medicine." The album continues with the electrifying, jamband groove of "Froth Squelch," before finishing with epic rock adventure "The Vanishing Point" and the classic prog-metal appeal of "Red Giant" as the band inject more energy into their sound. To find out more about The Raptor Trail and their latest release "Devil On An Indian," please visit theraptortrail.com.
THE RAPTOR TRAIL/Devil on an Indian: Genre benders that give you a taste of everything from CSN to McDonald & Giles, they call themselves melodic prog but this trio can almost call themselves anything and have the tag fit. With 25 years of jams under their belts, it's no wonder this feels like a trip back to the 70s flying in first class. They know how to hit the target, especially for younger tastes looking to stretch their wings. Clearly a wondrous flying carpet ride from start to finish.
The Raptor Trail – New World
People forget just what fertile ground the small city of Macon, Georgia has long been. The latest form that southern mini-metropolis is The Raptor Trail, but –other than a bit of a drawl in the pronunciations – don’t come expecting suthun rawk: this trio leans in a progressive rock direction, one that emphasizes strong lead vocals, equally solid vocal harmonies, and catchy, hook-laden melodies. Guitar heroics abound, but it’s all done with a large dose of good taste. Think of it as 70s album rock for the 21st century; in a just world, New World would get a wide hearing.
The second album for this US progressive rock trio formed by Gene Bass (drums), Matt Mayes (guitar, vocals, and guijo, an instrument between a guitar and a banjo of his own invention: you can find a video where Matt unveils it here [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv3w76G_qkA) and Johnny Meyer (bass, keyboard, vocals and guitar). The Prog genre, however, doesn’t cleanly delineate the musical environment that the band explores in this album. With influences like Rush and the Dregs, a mix of sound and melody that flirt with pop, West Coast style vocal harmonies, harmonized guitars with a Southern Rock flavor, and suspended atmospheres where Pink Floyd meets banjo rolls, the band goes beyond all duties and limitations of the Prog genre. New World was recorded and produced handsomely, with volume, dynamics, and instrumental spaces full of surprises. The entire album is forward thinking and outside of the box. If the vocal arrangements and flourishes are the entrée of The Raptor Trail, it takes nothing away from the rest of the meal. The whole album is smooth, far enough from the headstrong sound and instrumental technicality of notable peers. The acoustic rhythm guitars along with both clean and distorted electric guitars are skillfully played. Meyer demonstrates speed and precision during his solos in Stone by Stone and Time Slides Onward, while in Blue Highway he alludes to the Allman Brothers Band. A consummate album for those looking for a standout name in US Prog and high level production.
Imagine that the Allman Brothers Band were finally released from their alien abduction, and have returned with their minds melded with non-standard open D tunings, and wielding weapons looking like a banjo welded to a Strat'. Then add a Pearl Jam-style vocal, DNA spliced from David Gilmour's fret hand, psychedelic pot pourris of superbly recorded acoustic and electric guitars, and busy bass lines with shotgun snaring, and The Raptor Trail would be the result.
This is their second album and it is played by Matt Mayes on acoustic guitars, guijo, lead vocals, John Meyer on G-strings, electric guitars, bass and background vocals, and on drums we have Gene Bass. They are not (southern fried) spring chickens anymore and their maturity parallels the musical style with a nod to the 70s, but with a fresh, bang-up-to-date production and feel.
The title track gilds the outer space analogy with processed vocals and comet-trail whooshes. Four Times is the most progressive track due to its time signature changes, but every track here is simply great rock music. Whoville (from The Grinch?), The Fall, and the obviously-named Blue Highway are Lynyrd Skynyrd-ish, whilst Stone by Stone and Wheel are clearly veneered with a Floydian pink varnish. Desolation hints at stoner blues, and morphs into cicadas at the campfire "country story song", whilst Grace is a beautiful singer and acoustic guitar outdoor-pairing that smells of dust and T-bone splashed charcoal.
There is much that recommends this trio of amigos. They are surprisingly accessible, with definite commercial flourishes, and just a little push could see them become huge. I really hope that "someone out there" picks up on this unacclaimed bunch and rewards them for the massive talent that they are.
There's a walk called "The Raptor Trail" at Haldon Forest Park here in England. I thought it would be quite fitting to conclude with what the guide book says, which is: "Be prepared for a few steep ascents and descents". That'll do it.
Andrew Halley: 9 out of 10
A few of my music loving friends who still (thankfully) spend their own hard earned cash on CDs, downloads and the likes, often ask me, isn't it a chore wadding through a pile of CDs for review purposes by bands I haven't necessarily chosen to listen to for pleasure? Now I can't tell a lie, during my time at SoT I've encountered some real clunkers, however they've been far outweighed by the good to excellent acts I've discovered along the way. Falling squarely into that latter category, I'm pleased to say, come Brevard, NC outfit The Raptor Trail, with their second album,New World. A three piece comprising Gene Bass on drums (yes I know that sounds like part of the 'Whose on first sketch…'), Matt Mayes on guitars and fingered slide guijos (more of which later) and Johnny Meyer on all manner of guitars and vocals, TRT may be short on band members, but they sure as hell ain't short on influences. Billed as melodic prog, I can't quite escape the feeling that the only reason that tag is being used is because there isn't a neat little genre bag to drop this band into. For some outfits that ensures a quagmire of hotchpotched ideas all squodged together and presented as something new – which isn't. On New World, The Raptor Trail simply get on with making good music and, unusually, don't seem all that interested in how we might categorize it.
Across this album everything from country to Americana, dreamy UK pop to prog, hard rock to riff fueled aggression comes tumbling forth. However what binds it all together is an innate sense of melody and a sublime line in arrangements and top notch performances, whether they be pinpoint but heartfelt vocals, stinging but impassioned guitars, or locked down tight, yet still deep in the groove, rhythms and beats. As I type, "Stone By Stone" is spinning, so let's start there, the compelling vocals bringing to mind Cosmic Rough Riders, as the driving beat is wonderfully smoothed by chiming guitars. However play CD roulette with this album and no matter where the ball lands, it's jackpot time, "Let It Go" an atmospheric slice of ambience, "Whoville" a less opinionated R.E.M. - although it still has a huge amount to say.
"Four Times" introduces the album in full force style, bass romping along, guitars cranked to a roar, however it is the guijos that brings a new element here. The instrument is a Strat body with a banjo neck (unusual for starts), but here Mayes plays it tube-slide style, bringing a genuinely new sound and idea to the mix. To be fair it's a subtle thing, but New World is full of them and sounds amazingly familiar and yet somehow different because of it. There's more to discover, lots more in fact, the dazzling Tom Petty-ish "Time Slides Onwards" that somehow sounds nothing like Tom Petty… while "Desolation" has a brooding melancholic melody any song with that title deserves.
I doubt I'd have stumbled across the music of The Raptor Trail if I wasn't in the fortunate position of being sent it for review on SoT. I'm glad I was, because put simply, this is a little fire cracker of an album that also proves to be crafted and subtle. Few bands can bring all those aspects together, but for New World, The Raptor Trail have done so with ease. The results are superb.
Team Rock (UK)
The US power trio The Raptor Trail’s second album – they’re no dinosaurs.Given the regeneration of progressive music over recent years, you might assume that all the genre boundaries have been pushed and true originality is becoming a scarce commodity. Mercifully, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and this North Carolinean/Georgian band are yet another example of an act presenting their own highly innovative strain of prog rock. Their mix of southern rock with transitory flashes of 70s prog is one classy concoction, curious and commercially minded. Extending to over eight minutes, Going To Dublin somehow manages to cram all those varied influences into a single track, and the result is utterly captivating.
Such a transition through boogie rock, early Rush with a David Gilmour-style guitar solo on top should sound like a clumsy, musical cut ‘n’ paste job; in these hands it’s unexpectedly smooth. New World also steers away from such complex interplay, with songs like Time Slides Onward and Blue Highway (which even contains a nod to Jessica by The Allman Brothers) having the kind of wilful, progressive accessibility, that the Von Hertzen Brothers and their like are so adept at. If yours is a wide musical taste, step into The Raptor Trail’s new world.
The Progressive Rock Files
This is a band or should I say an idea of a band that has been around in some fashion for over twenty-five years. Hailing out of the south, Georgia to be a little more specific The Raptor Trail creates music that is a blending of southern rock sounds with a jam-band performance style all packaged together with Progressive Rock sensibility. Coming in at seventy-seven minutes, there are a total of twelve compositions ranging in length from five minutes to a few just under nine. In fact over half of these tunes are well over six-minutes. The band is essentially a trio of drums, bass and guitars. No keyboards are listed and I detected none over repeated listening and yet this was one of those bands where I didn’t actually miss the keyboards. The songs are arranged in a relatively complex fashion where both electric and acoustic guitar sounds more than make up for the missing keys. Adding a little southern spice to the music is the incorporation of instruments such as banjo and slide guitar but their influence is subtle and not overpowering. On the other hand vocal harmonies are one strong and certainly one of the listening highlights. As to any sound reference points, I was reminded of the Prog band Farpoint with its acoustic-guitar-southern-sound mixed with a prominent mid-tempo Pink Floyd vibe, especially in the lead guitar department. These are compositions, especially those with some length to them that slide into different feels. Rather than dramatic starts and stops we have smooth waves of music changing course. It would be easy to dismiss New World as an album that doesn’t warrant the Prog fan’s attention, but you would be wrong. While perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, there is much to recommend the overall organic feel of the music created by The Raptor Trail. It is brimming with emotion and rich with something to say lyrically. On top of that it just sounds so good from beginning to end. This is an extremely satisfying listen.
Music Waves (France)
Taking nearly a quarter of a century for the project to mature, then two albums released in a 12 month interval; one can’t say that the three American members of “The Raptor Trail” are guided by any scheduled due dates. Still, after their eponymous production in 2015, John Meyer and Matthew Mayes, accompanied by Gene Bass behind the drums, come back to us in 2016 with a second copiously filled galette (77 minutes).
Hearing the instruments played by our protagonists will quickly raise the interests of guitar lovers: Key point here, however, is that one finds a profusion of guitars, basses, and the guijo, a half guitar, half banjo instrument offering a distinctive harmony. The set combines metal and acoustic sounds, with the mix of genres working both simultaneously as well as sequentially. At this point, I see the lovers of Guitar-Hero starting to become enthusiastic.
Of course, the tracks lining “New World” offer their share of brave passages, like “Going to Dublin” for example, with technical passages that recall “Hyperventilate” by Frost, or also in the unrestrained knitting of “Time Slides Onward”. But, here the guitars are in the service of the music and the melody, and not the opposite that is sometimes produced by the famous aces of the six strings. Thus results genuine compositions where both meticulous vocal parts and often highly technical instrumental passages find their proper place. Rush, but also Sebas Honing, can actually serve as a point of comparison. But the attentive listener will also pick up on the two very Floydian tracks that are “Stone by Stone” and “Wheel,” where a completely gilmouresque influence is felt both in the song structure and in the long solo at the end.
To accompany all of this, one must naturally have a rhythm section that makes sense, and that is the case here in part with a well built bass, but especially with the always opportune drums that are deliciously mixed at the same level as the other instruments, with the highlight of a superb reverb on them. A true joy.
Far from dragging on despite its length, “New World” reveals a promising group, very rock n’roll and naturally progressive. A very meticulous work who stuns more than one ear.
The Raptor Trail
Prog fans not yet familiar with this band (and those who already are) will be very impressed with this album. The band --- Matt Mayes on guitars and vocals, Johnny Meyer on guitars and bass and Gene Bass on drums --- play without the use of synthesizers so the melodies tend to be on the subtler side and thankfully devoid of the bombast that defines so many prog bands. That doesn't mean these tunes don't have a punch; the guitars on the somewhat lyrically-cryptic "Whoville" erupt into Boston-like flourishes occasionally and "Going to Dublin" sounds like the more raucous side of Yes. But for the most part comparisons fail; you'll hear snippets that remind of other bands but these guys are no copycats. The one prog hallmark that's fully in place here is that you can totally space out while listening to New World, and most of the songs are long so you don't have to come back to reality for quite a while.
Time for a little new alt rock by a good band I have not been exposed to previously, the Raptor Trail. The one I have been liking, the subject of this review, is their second album, New World (MBM Entertainment). It's a power trio of Matt Mayes on guitars and vocals, Johnny Meyer on guitars, keys, bass and vocals, and Gene Bass on drums.
They get a densely vivid sound on the album, with some heaviness and lots of fine guitar/bass routines--and very solid, driving foundational drumming. Their musicality is everywhere evident. The songs have progressions not at all cliche, and the melodic vibrancy reminds me just a bit of early REM, and that to me is a cool thing. Both Matt and Johnny sing well.
And in the end you have an album that stands out as singular and nicely arranged, songs that grow on you little by little and do not tire the ears, ever.
The Raptor Trail are doing good. I hope lots of folks get into them. I do recommend you check this album out if you want something very substantial and worthwhile among the new rock offerings out there now. I am a fan based on this one!
Album number two from the Raptor Trail, sees them sidling sideways from the overtly prog offerings of their debut album. But, don’t run off. It’s still the seventies in their heads. However, they have brought in some more mainstream sounds. Thankfully, from 1975 as opposed to today.
There are touches of blues rock and American toots here, with some hints of psychedlia hither and thither. Fans of seventies US rock will take to songs like ‘Four Times’ and ‘Stone By Stone’, whereas those looking to get their prog itch scratched should be heading towards “Going To Dublin’ and ‘Wheel’.
They even manage to kick out the jams with some hard rock on ‘Desolation’, but it’s a varied mixture of an album, which manages to hold together. It’s prog, psych, country rock and more. But it’s all good.
Keys & Chords
Last month we recieved a nice CD from the unknown MBM label we want to share with you. For more than 25 years of playing, Matt Mayes and Gene Bass (both from Jupiter Coyote) and Johnny Meyer took the musical path, and finally their debutante child arrived in 2014. 'New World' is their second litter and right on target.
Remembering the '70s guitar bands like Van Halen or Little Feat, The Raptor Trail is a child of this century, but its roots are not forgotten. So you expect a portion of rock, hard rock, Americana pinch and even prog rock à la T2. The guys know exactly how to compose a song and an engaging presentation. Soft intros, many rhythm switches and some guitar solos bring catchy sounds that stick in your head.
The path of this bird of prey thus follows a clear American rock line where quality is paramount. When you listen to this interplay and guitar solos it's difficult to find a European equivalent. (Instrumental supremacy of Americans and British with respect to the European musicians is truly remarkable. Sorry for the nationalists among you).
The CD intro refers to their band name. Then follows 'Four times' with an emphatic bass line from the 'Adorable' Johnny Meyer and a harmonious chorus. Along the way are impressive guitar solos and you're in for almost 78 minutes rock fun. The songs alternate in speed and intention, some with an acoustic guitar base, nice enough so that even someone my age does not need earplugs. A sublime sound mix. 'Let it go' has a strong prog rock content with a slice of Pink Floyd.
The title track 'New World' varies with voice distortion, psychedelic guitars and vocal harmonies. "Times Slides Onward 'impresses with sleight guitars and (again) the beautiful harmony vocals. And 'Desolation' evolves from a ballad to a jamming hard rock song. The band knows exactly where to go and showcases that without hesitation and with success.
Line Up: "Some Dude Named" Gene Bass (drums, percussion) Matt "Mellow" Mayes (Fingered & Slide Guijos, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Vocals) Johnny "Adorable" Meyer (Electric, Slide, Fretless & Acoustic Guitars, G-Strings, Key Things, Bass, Vocals)
Wonderful rock songs for the repeat button. Splendid guitar playing & vocal harmonies. The Raptor Trail will take you (four times or more) by surprise.
The Raptor Trail offers us New World, an album slowly and quietly concocted over the last 25 years. The founding members John Meyer and Matthew Mayes thought about recording something together for decades. Finally in 2014, a studio project was envisioned under the name The Raptor Trail. In fact, “The Raptor Trail” is the first song that Meyer and Mayes wrote together for the project; the title snowballed from there and eleven new songs saw the light of day during the following year.
The Raptor Trail has the talents of strong composers and is well anchored in a blues tinged progressive rock, revealing a formidable music making machine. The album contains pieces that will give you a big smack as John Meyer, Matthew Mayes, and Gene Bass give pleasure while playing together.
“Four Times” starts the album on a rather fast tempo with rhythm and emotion for this pure rock gem that shines with its immediately possessive and seductive guitars.
“Whoville” is a little more bluesy with more refined guitar work. “Going to Dublin” develops a rock full of punch interrupted by flights of guitaristic beauty. “Stone by Stone” is the perfect blend of influences: blues, rock, and progressive rock highlight the musical versatility of The Raptor Trail. The more synthetic foray of “Let It Go” has long, monotonous, mind-blowing layers of synth supported by a rhythm that is assuredly serious, livened up by a monstrous guitar solo. The sumptuous “The Fall” and its intro with acoustic guitar on a long, progressing melody scattered by vocal harmonies is superb.
One cannot hide his pleasure when listening to the title “New World,” which gives its name to the album and continues the path traced by the two preceding pieces while hitting us with a modern melody that contrasts with the rest of the album.
We find there a beautiful, musical depth. More lively, “Time Slides Onward” brings us to the appealing “Blue Highway” which is carried by a frenzied rhythm. We will be touched by the luxuriance and luminous beauty of the ambitious piece “Wheel” at eight minutes and forty seconds as it approaches the side of mind-blowing, symphonic, ultra-polished composition rock, with a final wha-wha guitar that seriously shreds! And what happens next doesn’t start to wane with “Desolation,” slowly headed by the melody with lyrics that touch the heart.
And finally “Grace,”a subtle mixture of sadness and melancholy for this superb ballad on acoustic guitar that puts an end to this excellent album, strongly recommended!
In the course of the last four decades there has taken shape some bands who chose to embrace a particularly iconic scheme and foremost a rock imagery, namely the so-called "power trio" (the essential formula guitar / bass / drums, with one or more of these instrumentalists in as well as a singer/s), however, distancing themselves from the classic bluesy style of historical groups like Cream, or Experience.
To explore these formulas, they install complex bass playing and phrasing, often borrowed from jazz-rock, funk or fusion. The guitarists are certainly students of the blues, but often in the balance between the unpredictability of Zappa, metal riffs and high virtuoso solo digressions. All of this is obviously topped off by a drumming consisting of odd times, displaced accents, deadlifts and embroidery on percussion that go beyond the simple rhythmic intake. Often these weird bands' unique sound were dropped for convenience in the immense and diverse melting pot of progressive rock, while being much more progressive in attitude for real adherence to the styles and gender stereotypes. The three most important names of this way of making music were certainly in the second half of the '70s the Rush, the '80's King's X, and the 90s Primus.
Of course, as well as the definitions of gender, these temporal locations are convenient, since all three bands have not put forward a single decade but are still in business (although the Rush have now announced a gradual retirement). Could there be an orphan of these groups that do this noble tradition in this millennium? The answer may come with the very valid Raptor Trail: Matthew Mayes, John Meyer and Gene Bass from North Carolina. Which, mind you, does not sound much like any of the bands listed above, as do the three groups taken as an example do not resemble each other at all, yet there is a clear "red thread" in the spirit than in sound, making them common.
The start of "New World " (their second album after the self-titled " The Raptor Trail" in 2015, MBM Entertainment) is "Four Times", with a quiet foreground, then sharp guitars and beautiful [raptor] harmonies that are typically American. It immediately puts the record straight, while "Grace" is the ballad that everyone would like to know how to write. The spatial and surreal atmosphere is certainly found in the dreamy "Desolation", that somewhat resembles the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
There are approximately nine minutes of "Going to Dublin" as it represents one of the highest summits of the disc, and perhaps the the band closer to the border with progressive territories, albeit reinterpreted with an irreverent vein with rock'n'roll guitar harmonies that are almost AOR, interspersed with abrupt slowdowns that are from the Floydian school.
In short: a band that is destined to make their mark for years to come as have the three bands mentioned above, and with the same attitude.
The Daily Vault
At one point or another, pretty much every Vault writer has expressed their gratitude at being exposed to a large variety of music, many from small promoters and up-and-coming or underground bands that standard radio would never play and that take some seeking on Spotify. It's a big perk of this gig, and bands like The Raptor Trail is the reason why (at least for me).
This is the trio's second album of modern progressive rock and a stunner of a disc. The guys are all music veterans of at least two decades in various other projects but all knew each other somehow, so working together meant that both chops and chemistry were in plentiful supply, and it's obvious from the assured, multi-layered songwriting throughout this 78-minute disc.
Like any power trio you care to name, this collective works best when the three parts are allowed to be equal, and so there are no moments here of ridiculously expanded drum or guitar solos, vocal histrionics, or tricky time signatures just for fun. The players coalesce their talents into a whole on each of the 12 songs (most of which run between six and eight minutes). The end result is a richly detailed, melodically endowed piece of work that deserves a larger audience. Larger, anyway, than the small clot of prog-heads that read sites like ours (love you guys!), post on Yes fan boards, and took the recent death of Keith Emerson personally.
"Four Times" kicks ass out of the gate, with Johnny Meyer playing the shit out of the bass like a lead instrument against Gene Bass' cymbal/snare-led drumming and Matt Mayes' raw power chords in the chorus, which are toned down during the verses to allow the rhythm section to shine. Turn your bass up for this one and the song rockets to life. Better still? There's no easy comparison to make to another prog band, and I was too busy enjoying the song to even try.
"Whoville" slows the tempo with acoustic guitars, bringing to mind The Church's Starfish album, at least until the electric chords pick up during the chorus. It should be noted that both Mayes and Meyer, who wrote the songs, both play guitar on the album; Mayes also plays a "guijo" (a Fender Strat/banjo cross) and Meyer plays both "key things" and "secret things." Funny.
"Going To Dublin" is a hard-edged gallop, one of those songs that plays a few chugging bars then pauses briefly for a cymbal crash, kind of like Bo Diddley meets Rush, but better. It's also the longest song here, featuring a slower midsection, an instrumental reprise of the main theme, a bass solo of sorts and a band jam at the end. It's one of the few times that the trio just lets loose with multiple jams and solos, and it's a blast without seeming indulgent.
Honestly, a track-by-track review almost seems unnecessary here, as each song is a highlight, and even the more standard rockers like "Stone By Stone" and "The Fall" are quite tasty. "Let It Go" is a highlight, what I imagine an Alan Parsons Project/Rush jam written by Dream Theater would sound like. It, like most of these songs, takes a few listens to pick up everything that's going on; the first time, you hear the main melody, but later you notice the acoustic underpinning, then Meyer's bass work, and then you hear it all come together and realize these guys are good.
There are no real missteps, although the title track comes close, with its computerized vocals and repetitive nature that don't quite justify a seven-minute runtime, but the driving '90s alt-rock of "Time Slides Onward" makes up for it. From there, things hit a rut – too much of a good thing, really – with "Blue Highway" and the hard but overlong/overslow "Wheel." Things close with an instrumental called "Desolation" and the obligatory acoustic final track "Grace," which is the most straight-ahead track here and consequently the least essential, even if it sounds quite good.
Whomever the current arbiters of prog are need to allow space at the bar for the Raptor Trail. This disc alone – at least, the first eight songs – is more than enough to warrant their inclusion into any discussion of modern prog rockers you need to hear.
Get Ready to Rock
It’s great when a new band takes its cue from anything other than early seventies blues rock. The Raptor Trail major on well constructed songs, great playing and a definite – even if subconscious – nod to American acoustic/southern rock purveyed by the likes of Atlanta Rhythm Section and Little Feat. Their drummer Gene Bass (just to be confusing) was in the highly rated Jupiter Coyote – together with band mainman Matt Mayes – which offers another signpost.
Judging by the minimalist sleeve liner with a shameful lack of lyric sheet, the band have been picked up by various prog media on the web, but this music is not specifically prog.
Opener ‘Four Times’ is characterised by a busy bass line and general urgency powered by Johnny Meyer’s thrusting guitar figures, ‘Whoville’ has a lovely acoustic flow throughout its captivating six minutes.
A track like ‘Stone By Stone’ might even appeal to modern day Noel Gallagher fans, a lovely acoustic-based groove tinged with psychedelia. ‘Let It Go’ is proggy but nevertheless rooted in the band’s melodic sensibilities and not without a nod to Pink Floyd.
The title track is particularly impressive and another vehicle for their richly orchestrated acoustic arpeggios and vocal harmonies topped with psychedelic guitar.
Overall, the standard is high on this album and the band prove themselves as capable and convincing on the shorter tracks – ‘Time Slides Onward’ and ‘Grace’ – as the more lengthy pieces such as “Going To Dublin’, ‘Wheel’ and the heaviest track ‘Desolation’.
The band have been incubating for a couple of decades and, to date, appears to be something of a cottage industry. It would be a real shame if ‘New World’ didn’t find a much wider audience. Refreshing and totally compulsive. *****
Review by David Randall
Music in Belgium
3/22/2016 - New review from Belgium today. Special thanks to Lindsey Meyer for giving a proper French translation (Google Translate didn't do too well on this one!).
An American trio from Brevard, NC & Macon, GA., The Raptor Trail consider themselves as a Melodic Prog Trio composed of three experimental musicians. Formed by John Meyer and Matthew Mayes, it took waiting patiently after 25 years of work and collaboration for them to finally write and compose their first pieces in 2014! The duo is joined by the services of Gene H. Bass, a third associate, who had already worked with John Meyer in other diverse settings. Taking into account that the trio’s first album was released in May 2015, here is the second discographic effort where the group chose to highlight vocal harmonies and an acoustic base for their progressive rock.
“Some Dude Named” Gene H. Bass (drums and percussion), Matthew “Mellow” Mayes (singing, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo and guijo), and John “Adorable” Meyer (acoustic and electric guitar, bass, singing and sound effects) embark us from the start towards joyfully mixed acoustic and electric facets. Lively and well balanced, the rock of our trio doesn’t lack punch with an effective coverage of guitars who associate themselves with dry and precise drumming. Then the acoustic side takes lead to construct a folk-rock ballad, highlighting the singing and electric guitar solos, who bring us towards a certain alternative rock.
A colorful southern-boogie rock follows, which also gives evidence of remarkable guitar work, surely not forgetting the bass which gradually asserts itself. Again, the presence of a Floydian solo is added, which allows the level of musicianship to climb even further. In any case, what is certain is that the music of our three musicians is beautiful and good for making us move our bodies, who often have a tendency towards falling asleep! If we continue our journey through this judicious mix of acoustic and electric rock here, every musician proves their fullest potential!
But what compels the admiration of your servant is that the group realizes a technical feat with only three basic instruments. The guitar, the bass, and the drums fill the entire sound space, providing at times slightly atmospheric passages, proving that our musicians are talented and know how give an impact with their respective instruments. The gold prize goes to guitars, vocal work (which also benefits from sound effects), and also the beautiful craftsmanship, which sometimes reminds us of the great Pink Floyd.
Like Kinetic Element but without organs and keyboards, The Raptor Trail offers us a collection of compositions based on the foundations of rock music. There you have it, a very good album created by three experienced musicians!
March 16, 2016
Title - 'New World'
Artist - The Raptor Trail
The Raptor Trail has been slowly and quietly plotting its course over the last 25 years. Founding members John Meyer and Matthew Mayes had been kicking around the idea of recording something together for decades. Finally in 2014, the planets aligned and the idea actually transcended into a studio recording project which later came to be called The Raptor Trail.
The Raptor Trail was actually the first song that Meyer and Mayes wrote together for the project, and it snowballed from there, with “Gravity x Ten” following, and then ten more songs over the course of the next year.
Their self titled album which was released in May 2015 received a warm reception from diehard Jupiter Coyote fans, as well as many publications from the Progressive rock side of the scale. Now the band has just released their sophomore album this past March, entitled New World. This second release finds the band stretching it's musical wings with particular attention to vocal harmonies and acoustic based themes.
With The Raptor Trail comprising of: Gene Bass - Drums, Percussion; Matthew Mayes - Vocals, Guijo, Acoustic Guitars, Acoustic Banjo; and John Meyer - Lead, Slide, Fretless & Acoustic Guitars, G-Strings, Bass, Weird Noises, Background Vocals, this second album kicks off with the guitar thunderous 'Four Times,' before the mood is lightened by 'Whoville.' The upbeat bar fest cut 'Going To Dublin' is next and is one of the highlights on this great new CD and is backed by both the mid-tempo 'Stone By Stone' and the epic (in length and depth) 'Let It Go.' The storytelling of 'The Fall' is next and that is followed by the title track, 'the thoughtful 'New World'.
The fun and bouncy 'Time Slides Onward' is next before the heavier guitar cut 'Blue Highway' comes to the fore. The guitars get a little darker, a little heavier, and whilst the tempo drops overall, for me the best song of the album comes next: 'Wheel.' The album then comes to a conclusion with both stoic 'Desolation' and the perky, assured guitar work of 'Grace.'
March 16, 2016
THE RAPTOR TRAIL/New World: Hmm, melodic hard/prog rock with an internal sense of humor that doesn't take itself ponderously serious but plays it straight nonetheless. Verry interesting. With everything they need to be a high flying underground sensation at their finger tips, this crew might wind up finding out the road goes on forever but they'll have fun along the way.
JP's Music Blog
CD Review: New Music From The Raptor Trail
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
From North Carolina comes the sophomore release titled "New World" from the progressive-rock trio The Raptor Trail. They have expanded their sound, pushing most of the twelve-tracks past the six-minute mark, turning this into 78-minutes of great musicianship. Beginning with "Four Times," things get off to a hard rock start with vocalist Matt Mayes taking the lead on this track. Their sound get more relaxed on the jammy sounds of "Whoville," while the nearly nine-minute "Going To Dublin" has a fresh, aggressive feel that has The Raptor Trail heading in the right musical direction. They continue with the atmospheric beginning of "Let It Go" as they try their best to sound like classic Pink Floyd, while "New World" builds-up to this great bluesy guitar solo as the band comes together in union. The album finishes up with the southern groove of "Blue Highway" and the gentle, acoustic strumming of "Grace."
VERSATILE ROCK MULTI-INSTRUMENTALISTS
JUNE 11, 2015
The Raptor Trail(2015)
The Raptor Trail is the exciting new project of three veteran multi-instrumentalists Matthew Mayes, Gene Bass and John Meyer. The band crosses various rock music boundaries. You’ll find good old classic rock, blues, hard rock, and progressive rock.
The Raptor Trail has developed well-crafted arrangements, vocals with ear-catching melodies and memorable guitars solos. The progressive rock element is visible primarily on track 2, ‘Gravity Times Ten’ where the band provides a masterful demonstration of creative drumming, bass lines and outstanding guitar work; track 6, ‘Come & See’ where the bass plays a leading role, accompanied by electronics effects and two of the best (distorted) guitar solos on the album; and the gorgeous timeless feel of ‘Willma’.
Other notable (non-progressive) tracks include the fabulous solo on the opening piece, ‘The Raptor Trail’; the great classic rock groove of ‘Smaller than you’, and the blues-rock powerhouse ‘Amorous.’
The lineup on the album includes Matthew B. Mayes (cofounder of Jam rock band Jupiter Coyote) on lead vocals, background vocals, acoustic guitars, banjo, and “guijo”; John Meyer on acoustic and electric guitars, bass, “G-Strings”, Effects and Background Vocals; and Gene Bass on drums and percussion.
The Raptor Trail features first class rock music by versatile multi-instrumentalists
who achieve great alchemy between them.
THE RAPTOR TRAIL - "The Raptor Trail"
The Raptor Trail is an American Rock trio, the members of which hail from Macon (Georgia) and Brevard (North Carolina). The line-up consists of Matthew Mayes (vocals, guijo, acoustic guitars and banjo), John Meyer (lead guitars, bass, backing vocals), and Gene Bass (drums, percussion). The three musicians share a long-time musical background. Gene Bass and John Meyer grew up together in Macon, and have played together in a number of bands since the 80’s. And Gene Bass and Matthew Mayes played for 12 years in the Jamrock band called “Jupiter Coyote” - coincidentally, Mayes and Meyer were roommates in those days, and Meyer ultimately became the first sound technician of “Jupiter Coyote” (he was also responsible for creating the band’s moniker). Over the 25 following years, Meyer and Mayes were moved by the idea of recording music together, but always considered the difficulty of intermeshing their different styles: Meyer wanted to include in the music the use of harder and heavier guitars, highlighted by his customized “D” tuning; while Mayes, more used to the Progressive Bluegrass and Jamrock styles, wanted to use his “guijo” (a stringed instrument, half-strat, half-banjo) tuned in an open “G”. Finally in 2014, Meyer and Mayes entered the studio to write an experimental first song. For their surprise, their styles blended perfectly, and that song – titled “The Raptor Trail” – was the emblematic beginning of their eponymous musical project. For taking the drumsticks, Meyer and Mayes could not think in anybody else, unless their friend Gene Bass, and so The Raptor Trail was born. After writing and recording 11 more tracks, The Raptor Trail self-titled debut album was released in both digital and physical formats (June, 2015, Red Eye World Wide/MBM Entertainment distribution).
The music of The Raptor Trail is a cross-over of genres, which include Bluegrass, Southern Rock, Country-Rock, and Folk, wrapped up in sonic textures typical of Progressive and Classic Rock, and solidified in a kind of “Progressive Bluegrass” new sound. The songs are performed at a professional level, being soft, melodic, and easy-listening, sounding like a blend of “Jupiter Coyote”, “Toolshed Ginger”, “The Allman Brothers”, “Lynyrd Skynyrd”, “Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young”, “ZZ Top”, “James Taylor”, “Status Quo”, “Blind Melon”, with the smoothest side of “Molly Hatchet”, “The Outlaws”; and the most provincial roots of “Dire Straits”, “Rush”, “Yes”, “Jadis”, “Triumph”, “Moody Blues”, and “Pink Floyd”. The arrangements are multilayered, balanced between acoustic strings (guitars, guijo and banjo) and electric strings (guitar and bass), supported by Gene’s solid rhythmic base. Songs are driven by the mellow voice of Mayes and harmony vocals. The bass keeps flowing free, and the solos performed by Meyer on the electric guitar are plentiful, well-crafted, and adorable – the highlights of the album. Most tracks of The Raptor Trail are offered on a Progressive Bluegrass dish, such as the title track, "The Raptor Trail” (7:20), and “Come & See” (6:45) – both delivered on an electro-acoustic mattress of Bluegrass and Country, stuffed with many outstanding guitar solos – and also “Gravity Times Ten” (7:22), which emanates relaxing vibes from its nice harmony guitars and elegant bass lines, making it a favorite song, regarding the approach of this band to the Bluegrass style. A number of tracks, however, are cross-overs that bring together elements of Bluegrass, Country and Southern Rock, arranging them inside elaborated harmonic frames and rhythmic patterns that parallel the sound of 80’s “Rush”, “Jadis”, and even “Yes”: “Truk” (6:05), “Look Outside” (7:07), and “Never” (5:57). But tending to a 80’s Pop-Rock melodicism and beat, “Smaller Than You” (4:32) and “Now” (8:38) are the two most easy-listening tracks of the album, contrasting in time with the Classic Rock orientation and cheerful mood of songs like “Pawn” (5:09) (recalling “Status Quo” and “Triumph”); “32” (4:44) (an uplifting Country Rock), and the impressive “Amorous” (7:19) – which is the most aggressive song on the album, being delivered by groovy vocals and conveying long, intricate instrumental passages that are really Progressive. Finally, “Wilma” (3:52) – a beautiful ballad with a symphonic touch – has also gained space among my favorites.
The Raptor Trail is a meaningful sonic project that celebrates the long lasting friendship of three individuals who share a unique musical chemistry and history – and that bondage is realized in their heartfelt music. Although not being the most typical Progressive Rock band, The Raptor Trail will be delightfully enjoyed by fans of Bluegrass, Southern and Country Rock, Classic Rock, and fans of bands such as: “Jupiter Coyote”, “Toolshed Ginger”, “The Allman Brothers”, “Lynyrd Skynyrd”, “Neil Young”, “ZZ Top”, “Status Quo”, “Blind Melon”, “Molly Hatchet”, “The Outlaws”, “Dire Straits”, “Rush”, “Jadis”, “Triumph”, “Moody Blues”. Band members and collaborators involved in The Raptor Trail are: Matthew Mayes – Vocals, Guijo, Acoustic Guitars, Acoustic Banjo; John Meyer – Lead, Slide, Fretless, and Acoustic Guitars, G-Strings, Bass, Weird Noises, Backing Vocals; Gene Bass – Drums and Percussion. Recorded in band member’s home studios; Produced and Mixed by John Meyer... (Comments by Marcelo Trotta) .
A new band has emerged out of a long friendship, and it’s a nice sound. Melodic yet, right on the edge of alternative rock flowing with a bit of jam band. John Meyer, likes to play a harder edge, heavier guitar style, while Matthew Mayes likes to play a more progressive style bluegrass music style. He plays an instrument called the Guijo, which is a stratacaster and a banjo merged together. Put them together with drummer Gene Bass & you get the Raptor Trail. This album actually came out in 2014, so listen to it now. The music is nice, melodic & not too much on the edge. This gets 4 out of 5 Music Guru Stars.
THE RAPTOR TRAIL - The Raptor Trail - Autoproduction 2015
By Richard Hawey
THE RAPTOR TRAIL is certainly a name unknown to most of you and this is normal. Maybe you still remember the name of JUPITER COYOTE, which was a time not too distant have had some success on the rock scene. But back to THE RAPTOR TRAIL and its origins, the group comes to us from the southern United States specifically Georgia and North Carolina. Gene BASS and John Meyer, who live in Macon, Georgia played together in the 80's and beyond. To summarize MEYER, BASS & MAYES have long expected to create their first album. Finally, it was in 2014 that the planets aligned and the studio recording project a reality which later will be called THE RAPTOR TRAIL. THE RAPTOR TRAIL consists of Gene H. BASS (drums, percussion), Matthew B.MAYES (Vocals, guitar, banjo and guijo), John M. MEYER (electric and acoustic guitars, bass). The trio offers a style approaching the progressive with a strong rock influence that reminds me of bands like The Allmann or Brother's Wishbone Ash.
The first song MEYER and MAYES have written together is "The Raptor Trail" is also the piece that opens the album and everything progresses into twelve songs and seventy five minutes of excellent music. If you like beautiful melodies aided by a very good guitar, you'll find it here. I mentioned earlier the album opens with the title track, excellent song, which includes guitar solos that makes you want to continue. And you will be entitled to more of that treatment approaching the first with "Gravity Ten Times", and it's like this on most songs. "Look Outside" is more rock, but rock the house it does, and it has it's effect. "Come and See" offers a mix of blues rock with its center another great guitar solo in it's final breath. "Amorous" is that which is closest to the groups named above, and musicians will love it. The last track "Now" is the longest with about nine minutes, it is in the vein of previous pieces always with excellent guitar work.
Sometimes it happens that a pleasant surprise is waiting in my mailbox. I say nice because this eponymous offered me a good time. Far from me to say that will revolutionize the world of prog, no, because it's not in the progressive sense and he probably will not appeal to some fans of
the genre. But if you like beautiful melodies, a very well controlled guitar and catchy songs,then RAPTOR THE TRAIL is for you.
1. The Raptor Trail (7:22)
2. Gravity Times Ten (7:24)
3. Truk (6:07)
4. Smaller Than You (4:34)
5. Look Outside (7:09)
6. Come & See (6:47)
7. Pawn (5:11)
8. Wilma (3:54)
9. Never (5:59)
10. Amorous (7:21)
11. 32 (4:46)
12. Now (8:38)
"The Raptor Trail are a three piece from Macon, Georgia. They play what could loosely be described as prog, but it has certain other influences that make The Raptor Trail a bit different to most prog bands out there.
A couple of the guys were in jamrock band Jupiter Coyote for a decade or more, and it certainly adds to the sound. Then, there's the fact that they're from the deep south, and that also has an influence. The end result is a wonderful mix of prog, southern rock and blues, all done in a laid back style with plenty of long instrumental breaks. If progressive southern jam rock was a genre, then these guys would be number one on the list. Imagine Rush and the Allman Brothers having a session together, and that would be the Raptor Trail.
This is just a great album; the songs are well written, the musicianship is outstanding, and they make it all sound so easy: through 'Amourous', a southern rocker with an old voice proclaiming "ain't you happy you bought this CD from us?"
Buy the CD and you certainly will be happy that you did. Great album from start to finish."
A prog rock trio from Macon Georgia who unlike many of that genre keep you on your toes and interested throughout with their beautiful vocal and musical arrangements.
Made from two friends going by the names of John Meyer and Matthew Mayes and a dude called Gene Bass from Jamrock band, Jupiter Coyote who sold half a million records. All a big highlight from the opening band name that is also a song ‘The Raptor Trail’ right through to the closing ‘Now’ with fantastic tracks like ‘Look Outside’ & ‘Pawn’ thrown in there.
This really is a marvellous album that I have taken too a lot and there ain’t a dinosaur in sight either.
By Glenn Milligan