Release Date: March 8, 2023
It has been 15 years since I covered a Lance Reegan-Diehl album. That is a mighty long stretch. When the man decides to release an album, which has been since 2011’s Uploaded, he makes it count.
So now Maniacal Cavern has arrived with a determined-looking guitar player staring at you on the front cover. Lance’s Cavern is his home studio, which has served him well for decades.
So off we go into another instrumental rock album? Well, not quite. After the lengthy break-out lead-off track “Crying Nut,” clocking in at a hearty 9:19 of some fine guitar lines (what I always would expect), the next track, “Don’t Look Back,” features some AC/DC-like vocals for a quick change of pace. The shortest track is 4:11, so there is no skimping on content.
“Friction” is another rocking vocal track. The rhythm section hums right along, and the pace shifts back and forth with odd time signatures. It is a genuine progressive rocker with some tough-edged vocals to express the meaning entirely. The shift from pop-rock to hard-edged progressive rock is interesting. It was like listening to three different songs in one.
“Luna Glow” continues with the vocal tracks. I am not used to this on an LRD album. So far, it’s working. The guitar playing is so good that he can’t go wrong. 8:05 is some time to stretch things out; Lance and the band utilize the time wisely.
“Made of Wood” is an absolute cracker. It’s Lance doing what he does best, making love to those six strings. The guitar is finite and precise, and as we rock along, little funky piano changes the pace briefly, albeit very briefly, then back to the flat-out rocking we love to hear.
“Praise An Upper Lip” is another progressive track, instrumentally speaking. The time shifts can be dramatic at times. I am impressed with how Lance plays in many places (or different paces and styles) within one track. It takes guts to take a chance, and you must rely on your raw talent to get to the other side and do so successfully. It is one of my favorites for the variety and the challenges he pushes himself to reach. It always reaches an incredible apex with his guitar screaming. Love it.
“Seven Of 4” is one Metallica fans would enjoy as the shredding begins immediately and then morphs into more tasteful muted licks. Then they return to harder-edged fat chords and shredding; if you like six-string pyrotechnics, you will love this track. I did. I like the ode to Rush with that short burst of echoing guitar a little after 3 minutes. So many influences are flowering here. Epic.
“Sleepy Wheel” is a superb instrumental track. There is nothing here not to like. This probably is one of the best I have ever heard from Lance. Everything great about his playing is on display in this. There are tastefully done moments, get-down dirty points, and a funky backbeat. It’s all here for guitar enthusiasts to suck in and discuss in depth the transitions this player goes through.
“Slow Jam To Mars” is what it says it is, well, with some fast playing. It’s more of the bottom end that is slow jamming while Lance holds nothing back. This album continues to get stronger as you progress through the tracks. At times you get reminded of the power of Black Sabbath and the smooth, precise playing of David Gilmour. So good and fun to listen to.
“Take Off The ‘G’ String” continues with Lance on fire and in a completely focused groove. The jaw-dropping command of his instrument is truly a wonder to hear. This is a man I would love to see play live. It mainly displays as you will listen to this track. He makes that guitar sing and cry with joy. He owns this one. Maybe some memories of Eddie Van Halen in his prime will come to mind. Guitar and man take flight into the stratosphere.
“The One (Album Version)” brings back the vocals with fine guitar. It is a big step away from the previous tracks focused on the artist’s technical abilities as a player. This opens the door to new ventures with vocal tracks at a slower pace. It is so different that it sounds out of place after rocking your ass off track after track for a while, anyway. It was well done, though; a very tasteful guitar worth waiting for, then an apex at the end that is very satisfying. You can see it as a respite from the relentless attack on your senses presented prior (well, somewhat), which I loved.
So here we are at the end of this fantastic aural journey I thoroughly enjoyed. “What A Rush” indeed. And an acceptable way to close this excellent recording. Per usual, Lance gives it his all and lets his fingers do all the talking. The music is so melodic and beautiful. Some of his most vital work firmly closes the curtain, reminding me why I always loved his music.
If you have yet to hear Lance Reegan-Diehl, you are cheating yourself on a fantastic journey through the abilities of the guitar and how eclectic it can be (depending on who is playing). Now that you know who he is, check out this album and past releases; you will not be disappointed.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder
March 8, 2023
01. Crying Nut
02. Don’t Look Back
04. Luna Glow
05. Made Of Wood
06. Praise An Upper Lip
07. Seven Of 4
08. Sleepy Wheel
09. Slow Jam To Mars
10. Take Off The ‘G’ String
11. The One (Album version)
12. What A Rush