Impellitteri is often compared to Yngwie Malmsteen. High-speed, neo-classical guitarist Chris Impellitteri has been around for almost as long as Yngwie, tearing up fret boards and destroying tremolos across the world. Impellitteri has a large following in Japan and Europe but has never quite became as successful in the U.S. Longtime vocalist Rob Rock has sang on all but one of Impellitteri's albums ("Stand in Line"). Rob has also sang with Angelica, Joshua among others.
Impellitteri (Sony) 1987
in the Rain" (2:57)
I first heard about this guy when I was in a mall in NJ. I was checking out some Yngwie album when this guy with long hair walked up and asked if I had ever heard of Impellitteri. Of course I hadn't yet. He handed me a copy of Impellitteri's "black album" and told me that Impellitteri was a faster guitarist than Yngwie and that he had promised to never slow down. Hmm, sounds good, so I picked up a copy of that debut EP on cassette, took it out to my car, popped it into the deck and proceeded to be blown away. Impellitteri was one fast guitarist and along with Rob Rock on vocals, his four song EP was guaranteed to make some waves. For some odd reason, it failed to break open the doors I thought it would, but it did make me a life long fan. This four song EP is called "the Black album" by both the fans and even Impellitteri themselves. In any case, when I sold my cassette copy of this it took me the longest time to find a CD copy. Finally found this Japanese version on the Internet and was able to trade for a CD that I picked up for .99¢
Impellitteri - Stand in Line (Combat/Relativity Japan) 1988
In Line" (4:34)
It's 1988 and Impellitteri has a completely new band including Graham Bonnet, who has also sang for MSG, Rainbow and Alcatrazz, keyboardist Phil Wolfe, ex-Quiet Riot/Ted Nugent bassist Chuck Wright, and ex-Ted Nugent drummer Pat Torpey. The music is an obvious attempt at commercial success, so much so that there is even a cover of Rainbow's "Since You've Been Gone" that Bonnet sang on originally. Of all the Impellitteri discs I own, this is my least favorite, but it is also his most well known. After this disc Graham Bonnet would split and Impellitteri would hook back up with original singer Rob Rock.
Impellitteri - Live in Tokyo 1988 (777 Records)
1. "Intro" (1:01)
Basically this is "Stand in Line" live. Graham Bonnet live sounds, well, awful. He sounds really strained on this disc. Despite this, "Live in Tokyo 1988" is a decent quality bootleg, recorded from a promotional video of some type. I saw this disc for sale once before at a booth at a metal festival. The Crossing was the name of the sellers and at that time the disc was for sale at $25. As with all 777 Records (France) discs, the discs are not mass produced but are CDR's. Their cover art is always top quality however, as is the case with this disc.
Impellitteri - Grin & Bear It (Victor) 1992
1. "When the Well
Runs Dry" (3:58)
FINALLY! One of the two long missing Impellitteri cds thanks to a very generous cd collector from IL. (Thanks James). "Grin & Bear It" features the incredible voice of Rob Rock, along with bassist Chuck Wright, drummer Ken Mary, and shredmaster Chris Impellitteri. Ken Mary, along with Rob Rock, will stay with Impellitteri for years to come solidifying the Impellitteri line-up until the millennium. Musically this disc is a transition between the neo-classical Yngwie style of the first EP and the more commercial metal of "Stand in Line."
A sweet five song ep from Japan. Geez, I saw this thing in a cd store for $35. Yikes! It only has five songs! Well, I got lucky and got this in a trade on the Internet. Can't remember what I paid for the trade, but it wasn't $35! Notice that this is not the same track listing as the "Victim of the System" that comes as a bonus disc with "Eye of the Hurricane."
Impellitteri - Answer to the Master (Victor) 1994
1. "The Future is
'Answer to the Master' is one of Impellitteri's finest discs, if not their very best. Rob and Chris are perfect together and continued to get better with each and every disc. Gone completely are the glammy, commercial sounds of 'Stand in Line' that were still vaguely present on 'Grin and Bear It.' This disc simply shreds from beginning to end. Many likened this disc to Yngwie, but the only real similarity is in the speed, and perhaps the style, of the lead guitar playing. Otherwise I think that Chris Impellitteri writes better songs overall. His songs are memorable, catchy yet still heavy and fast. Of course, as I said before, having Rob Rock around doesn't hurt either. The man could sing over an air raid siren and make it sound good. Anyhow, MUCH thanks go out to James for hooking me up with this disc, as well as 'Grin & Bear It.' I have been searching for a long time for the final two discs in my Impellitteri collection.
Impellitteri - Screaming Symphony (Music for Nations) 1996
Forgive Them" (3:28)
"Screaming Symphony" is yet another installment of Chris Impellitteri shred guitar with Rob Rock"s signature vocals creating some catchy melodies. Chris does share the spotlight occasionally with keyboard player Edward Harris Roth. Of all the Impellitteri discs I own, this is my favorite. One odd thing about this disc though is that "Father Forgive Them" and "Walk Away" have identical rhythms. My copy is an English import as "Screaming Symphony" was never released in the U.S.
Impellitteri - Fuel for the Fire EP (Victor) 1997
for the Fire" (4:26)
I've been wanting this Japanese EP for the longest time and despite my best efforts, I could never seem to score one. Well, this all changed when I went to the Stryper Expo in Azusa, California. I found this copy for the bargain price of $20. WOW! That's expensive for a four song EP, but I figured if I didn't buy it I would probably never see it again. The disc is in a slimcase with the Japanese OBI.
Impellitteri-Live! Fast! Loud! (N.E.M.E.) 1998
"Live! Fast! Loud!" is a great title for this one as it describes Impellitteri to a tee. This disc is a bootleg of the bootlegs. According to the liner notes (which as bootlegs go are always reliable) this album is a collection of the best of the Japanese bootlegs from Impellitteri's Japan Tours in 1995 and 1996. OK, in any case, for a bootleg, the quality is not bad and the selection of songs is outstanding covering at least one song from every album up and through "Screaming Symphony." "For Your Love" is NOT a cover of the Yardbirds' song of the same name. "Highway Star" is a speedy cover of the Deep Purple classic. "Over the Rainbow" is an instrumental version of the song from the Wizard of Oz.
Impelliterri - Eye of the Hurricane/Victim of the System (Dream Catcher) 1998
I'm not sure if all the versions have the second disc like this copy from England. The bonus disc is suppose to be the "Victim of the System" EP but as you can see from the track listing above, it has different songs than the original EP. "Eye of the Hurricane" continues in the same mode as "Screaming Symphony" with Chris Impellitteri's lightning-fast, neo-classical guitar licks and quick rhythms and Rob Rock's clean, strong vocals. This album is just a hair heavier but also seems to incorporate more keyboards than in the past. The keys are used more as an effect than anything else. I picked up this disc for $4! Couldn't believe it when I saw it. One of the two discs has a few light marks on it but it plays fine.
Impellitteri-On Air East - Japan 1998 (cdr bootleg)
Excellent radio/TV broadcast bootleg from Japan. Traded for this two cd set with a trader from France, who is also the man behind 777 Records, a one man bootleg company that also produced the Impellitteri-Live in Tokyo 1988 and Stryper-Burning Japan Live discs. Of note on this disc, Chris Impellitteri plays tribute to two of his favorite guitarists during his solo when he plays riffs from several Van Halen and Deep Purple songs.
Impellitteri - Crunch/Screaming Symphony (Dream Catcher) 2000
Heavier, darker and faster than ever before. "Crunch" takes Chris into new realms of heaviness. It seems to me that Chris may have tuned down his guitar at least a half step from the standard E tuning of his past discs. It also sounds like Chris has been studying Pantera discs, as some of the rhythms take on these more modern grooves. Rob Rock is still on board, but from what I have heard and read, this will be his last time singing with Impellitteri as he will be venturing out on his own, securing a contract with Germany's Massacre Records. (Well, it was more than a rumor because Rob Rock released a cd called "Rage of Creation.")
Impellitteri - System X (SPV) 2002
1. "United We Stand"
I was a bit disappointed to hear that Rob Rock wouldn't be singing on this album, but was delighted to find out that Graham Bonnet would be returning. Bonnet is one of the hardest working voices in rock n' roll, and unfortunately has not received the recognition he deserves. His work with Alcatrazz is classic. It is good to hear his voice again, and he does a fine job on this disc. "System X" is MUCH heavier than the last Graham Bonnet-led Impellitteri disc, "Stand In Line" from 1988. However, the music isn't much different than that one "Screaming Symphony" or "Eye of the Hurricane". A couple songs like "Why Do They Do That" and "Perfect Crime" are more akin to "Crunch" with the mix of eerie keyboards and heavy guitar rhythms. Bonnet does a fine job one this disc; his raspy voice actually complementing the neo-classically inspired music quite nicely. The lyrics, for the most part, are interesting, although a few songs like "She's a Nighttime Lover" sound more like something off a Kiss album than anything I would expect from Impellitteri. Despite the lyrics, this particular song is quite infectious and is one of those songs that will stick in your head all day long. As a matter of fact, the entire album has some excellent vocals melodies and hooks. My particular copy of "System X" is German and features far inferior cover art to the Japanese and Korean copies. (Both pictured above)
Impellitteri - Pedal To The Metal (SPV) 2004
Finally secured my own copy of this CD. Man, this CD is heavy as a loaded freight train running down the tracks at full speed. Yes, as I said, there are some newer influences and this isn't as melodic as past Impellitteri discs, but this is still metal. As well, Impellitteri is still letting loose on those jaw-dropping guitar solos. The guitars are all downtuned now, which gives the disc a heavy sound, but unlike many other bands who rely on downtuning to write a heavy song, Chris is still incorporating good riffs. Musically I am reminded of Pantera at times. There are a few bizarre inclusions on here, such as "P.U.N.K." which is a mock of all the so called rapcore and rap-metal bands. Unfortunately this song and a few others are splashed with expletives, which is not something I am use to hearing on an Impellitteri disc.
Impellitteri - Wicked Maiden (Victor Entertainment) 2009