Houston Music

Joel Gregoire: One-Man Metal Extravaganza

If there is anything that Rocks Off loves about the modern music era it's that the ability of individual people to put out their own elaborate albums has never been easier. Meet Joel Gregoire, an instrumental metal maestro by trade and former member of Stride. He's releasing his new album Deranged Kids of the Electric Playground this weekend, and was kind enough to forward along a copy so we could bask in the harsh vibrations.

Metal is by nature symphonic. It's at least big bandish. It's a genre notorious for not doing anything half-way, and whether it's emulating opera or something like Holst's The Planets it usually strives for some manner of epicness.

That's the word that we would most use to describe Deranged Kids. It's an album that runs full tilt boogie towards a kind Satriani interstellar gusto. Most of the tracks move at a breakneck speed that fully shows off the considerable guitar chops of Gregoire without giving the listener any pause to rest.

By nature, Rocks Off is a lyrics guy, and throughout listening to Gregoire's ode to all that is over the top fretboard magic we can't help in the back of our brains waiting for the poetry to start. It's taken a few listening for us to come to grips that the squeelies and wheelies are the poetry. Written in the notes that fly from Gregoire's fingers are tales of giants, war, and the all-encompassing beauty of an ever louder American dream.

Gregoire is the quintessential guitar man. He's jammed with Steve Vai, he's opened for Bon Jovi, and he's spent decades honing the abilities he so effortlessly lets loose on his new disc. Rocks Off has been starved for some of that old-time metal religion lately. It's nice to return to a planet where the solo is the only God, and His love comes in ecstatic three- to five-minute bursts.

In a rare moment of not rocking tits to dust, Gregoire sat down with us for a few questions about his new album. Keep reading.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner