Known for his groundbreaking musicianship and energetic showmanship, Marzi Montazeri AKA “The High Priest Of Distortion” is a guitarist, producer, and songwriter from Houston, Texas. Currently the guitarist for Heavy As Texas, Marzi has been the man behind the axe for Superjoint Ritual and more recently in 2010, he rejoined with Philip Anselmo to work on Anselmo’s first solo project, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals. In 2015, Montazeri and Washburn Parallax Guitars united to co-design his own signature electric guitar series called “The Priestess”. Montazeri’s collaborations as a guest artist include Prong, Doug Pinnick (Razr 13), Defiatory, and the Judas Priest tribute record ‘Hell Bent Forever’, also featuring the vocalist on this album, Tim “Ripper” Owens. It was through this tribute how he came to know Mr. Owens. “A while ago I was asked to play a couple of solos on the tribute album ‘Hell Bent Forever’ and the track was, “Exciter”” recalls Marzi of first meeting Owens. “When I arrived, Tim was walking out of the vocal booth for the evening. I was blown away by his performance and personality. He’s a super cool and funny dude. So when it came to this EP where I knew I wanted a powerful metal vocalist, I just made a call to him and here we are with some original music.” Tim Owens is a Grammy-nominated American hard rock singer who first gained attention as the vocalist for Judas Priest (1996-2003) and then Iced Earth and Yngwie Malmsteen. Owens currently tours the world as a solo artist and performs as the lead singer of Charred Walls Of The Damned. Also worth noting, the movie Rockstar (featuring Mark Walhberg) was loosely based on Owens’ time in Judas Priest. In 2001, Marzi released his first solo effort ‘The Need’ and after 16 years, he has come back with what could be some of his best solo work yet with ‘The Uprising’.
If one is to name their album after a track on it, our expectations can be a bit predetermined on the quality of the track from the start. Marzi obviously knows what he was doing with the title track of “The Uprising” and my god does it ever show. From the jump with the all-powerful riffs combined with the chants of “Rise Up” being belted in the background make for quite the introduction to this track. Ripper’s clean screams are on full display here and all I can say is “Give me more!” Those lovely distorted tones, endlessly on the attack, with those piercing screams add up to a real treat for your ears. Not to mention the absolute masterful shredding solo that sees us to the close of the track, but not before we go back to into those ferocious riffs that made the song what it was. “Without Warning” comes in with some solo grungy bass lines culminating into full blown head bang extravaganza. Ripper’s vocals help bring an uneasy feeling to the song and is lifted to higher ground throughout the chorus. The title for this album is very fitting considering the hammer on assault from the high priest that over comes the song….without warning. (We can be accepting of one minor pun, right?) Then let’s toss in a face melting solo because the badass meter was only teetering on a 9.9 during the rest of the song, so appropriately MARZI kicks it up to 11. Coming in at the longest song on the album, that’s something we can all be thankful for, giving us as much of this song as we can handle. This could be the best work on the album but “Who Is Alive” might have something to say about that. On “Who Is Alive”, I’m not sure what is more impressive. The explosive and relentless pace coming from the drums, Ripper hitting all the notes with absolute precision, or the Priestess ascending us to riff heaven. The tone of this starts off heavy as hell and keeps pushing the limit consistently, which has become par for the course with this album. The man behind the kit almost steals the show, but Ripper and Marzi both make their claim for best performance as well. Everyone shines so darn well on this, I honestly can’t pick out a favorite aspect on it, there’s simply too much to highlight that focusing on one part can’t do this justice. The entire 3:25 of this track is metal defined to a T.
“The Uprising” is an absolute fantastic album, with even only having 6 songs, comes in swinging and lands that knockout blow. The pure art coming from the high priest of distortion is a gift in its own but to add the commanding vocals of Tim “Ripper” Owens makes for a really great time for all involved. The grit coming from the guitars with a bit of harmonic touch slipped in here and there do stand out. The three solos on here really are the definition of quality over quantity with each one so masterfully placed and executed. With extraordinary pairing of Marzi and Tim, they offer up a fiery sound that is not to be missed. The six track scorcher comes out June 23rd via Marzi Montazeri’s very own Crunchy Western Records. And in the name of The High Priest of Distortion, Amen.