Review: Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats - Meet the Meatbats
Label: Warrior Records
Released: September 15, 2009
Fans of Chad Smith's other endeavors, the funk/punk of Red Hot Chili Peppers and the generic hard rock of Chickenfoot, will find his Bombastic Meatbats project to be a surprise to say the least. It owes more to 70s fusion artists John McLaughlin and Herbie Hancock and jazz-oriented prog than it does to any mainstream rock influence.
At times, it really nails things. "Oh! I Spilled My Beer" builds on its funky groove, really freeing a wild, fun madness by the end. The mellow melding of soul and prog on "Tops Off" moves nicely, giving both sides of its nature space to breathe. The trouble is, though, that there are also tracks, like "The Battle for Ventura Blvd" and, to lesser extent, "Night Sweats," which wander too far into smooth jazz and light fusion to feel much better than cheap. In fact, much of the album has at least small bits of real badness, but as on "Death Match," it is saved by a combination of both fire and fun, often in the form of Smith's drumming and Jeff Kollman's guitar licks. Smith's group isn't going through an exercise in soul by any means, but they do manage to find enough life to keep things from becoming stagnant or completely self-indulgent.
By its nature, an album like Meet the Meatbats will suffer from too much noodling and too little soul and in some ways it's no exception to that rule. It does, at times, devolve into session-band-like fluff. However, despite playing an awful lot of notes, this one remains fun overall and that makes all the difference. The Meatbats also have the distinct advantage of not involving the ridiculously overindulgent and soulless Joe Satriani, so this is a much better diversion from the Chili Peppers for Chad Smith than Chickenfoot.
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