Rabea Massaad Grinding Gears Vol. 2 Album Review

Album/EP Review: Rabea Massaad – Grinding Gears, Vol. 2

Rabea Massaad is a busy guy. The Dorje and Toska guitarist never seems to stop so I don’t know how he finds the time to release his solo music. Grinding Gears Vol. 2 is, unsurprisingly, the follow-up to last year’s Grinding Gears Vol. 1 and sees Rabea return with another instrumental guitar masterclass.

Straight away you find yourself beaten around the head with some deliciously chunky riffs in Cthulhu. I couldn’t think of a better way to open the album than with the constant barrage to the senses Cthulhu provides. Rumbling bass, pounding drums and huge riffs never sounded so good. And then we are treated to some sweet lead playing at the end to round things off perfectly.

The first half of the album shows just how much of a riff machine Bea is. How can such evil and nasty sounding riffs come from such a nice and easy-going guy? If you like your music to be aggressive, thick and heavy, Rabea has you covered with this album. He also showcases his monster lead chops with some well placed solos. If I could play like him I’d be tempted to make a full-on shred album and just let rip all over the place. Rabea shoes great discipline in only playing that way when the track needs it and is happy for the riffing to carry the load. It works extremely well as each track feels like a proper piece of music rather than a showcase for Massaad’s talent.

Now & Then signals a change for the second half of the album with some absolutely beautiful playing. This is where we start to see the softer side of Rabea’s playing coming out. Gone are the huge riffs and instead we go on an atmospheric journey. His touch and phrasing are allowed time and space to breathe in tracks like Chill Down and Hey Now. It’s a sharp contrast to the first half of the album but when someone is capable of playing in different styles so effortlessly I think it’s only good to show the different sides of their personality as Rabea does here.

One important thing to mention is just how good this EP sounds. The production is superb and Rabea’s tones throughout are perfect for each track. The lighter tracks have a huge amount of space and atmosphere to them and the heavier ones simply sound immense.

The only real downside is that I wanted some tracks to go on longer. The longer tracks had more time to develop fully and I feel like that was missing from some of the shorter ones. With such a creative player it would have been interesting to hear where some of them would have headed given more time to expand.

Rabea Massaad is a guitarist who continues to inspire with his playing and Grinding Gears Vol. 2 is his best solo release to date. I can’t wait to hear where he takes things in the future.

Rating – 9/10

Rabea Massaad - Grinding Gears, Vol. 2