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'The Order of Control' is the third solo outing for one-time Racer X axeman Bruce Bouillet. Favouring a stripped-down approach to his instrumentations, it's merely a guitar, bass (Dave Foreman) and drums (Glen Sobel) setup, although Bouillet's also added a layer of rhythm guitar to beef out the music that's adorned with his plethora of licks, solos, and leads throughout. And it's is an album of both positives and negatives; one that's left me feeling ambivalent towards its relative merits and weaknesses.

Melodies are strong, song structures are solid and the production is just fine with an equally acceptable mix that gives just the right amount of weight to each instrument. However, as good an album as 'The Order of Control' is, and as many boxes as it manages to tick, it's still lacking a certain something. After a few spins, I can only conclude that it suffers from a distinct lack of diversity, give or take a couple of stylistic digressions. There are tempo and time signature changes, although barely any disparity of style. If all the tracks segued into one another, it'd have the effect (and it kind of does anyway), that you're listening to one long piece of music. That could be construed as a positive; after all, consistency and interrelated tracks can make for a well-rounded listening experience overall. Unfortunately, it also makes for a somewhat pedestrian listening experience after a while, where I found myself hoping for a few more cross-genre deviations, just to ignite a spark of interest. As such, 'The Order of Control' is more an album where I admire the technicalities of the musicianship rather than emotionally engaging in any big way with its resulting sonics. Technically, it can't be faulted, although it's not all mindless shred and virtuosity. To a degree, Bouillet conveys enough emotion through his highly skilled fretboard work; however, that emotion largely gets buried within, and abated by, the album's aurally homogeneous nature. Such a shame as it promises so much but, ultimately, fails to deliver.

Despite all my criticisms, for those who demand less from their listening proclivities, then 'The Order of Control' will probably prove a fairly riveting prospect. My own expectations of an instrumental guitar album in 2014 are so much higher - take the diversity of John 5's 'The Art of Malice', for example. Or, looking back 20+ years, that all-time pinnacle of benchmark instrumental guitar works, the seminal masterpiece that is Vai's 'Passion and Warfare'. 'The Order of Control' pales in comparison. A good effort nonetheless, though.
Music Theories Recordings
Review by Mark Holmes
21st Jan 2014
1) Blind as We Watched
2) Deafening
3) Seeing Through
4) Giving Up the Ghost
5) A Grand Reversal
6) Defiant
7) A One Minute Warning
8) The Order of Control
9) Crowd Control
10) The Manipulators
11) Breaking the Barrier; 12) Akiko
"...Bouillet conveys enough emotion through his highly skilled fretboard work; however, that emotion largely gets buried within, and abated by, the album's aurally homogeneous nature."