Here's a good lesson on expectations: don't. It will usually be wrong or disappointing. Fortunately, regarding Rich Fortuna's CD Heathen Machines, it was the former and not the later. I get an instrumental CD from a metal guy, so I'm expecting yet another guitar jerk-off-a-thon. And I was wrong. What I did get were some well-crafted songs from a player with an excellent sense of melody, not just scales and modes. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of leads to be had, but you get the distinct impression that the song is the primary concern and isn't just a vehicle for yet another 300 mile an hour solo. There's also a fair amount of ambient keyboard type orchestration that adds some character to the disk. I will say that, while listening to the CD, I kept getting the feeling that something was missing. It took me a few spins to figure out what that was: many of the songs on the disk actually sound like they would benefit from a singer. Now, I wouldn't typically advocate for a vocalist because, generally speaking, they're a pain in the ass. But the songs on Heathen Machines are so well structured that a singer would seem like a natural inclusion. I don't really consider this a negative attribute and it definitely didn't keep me from enjoying the CD. It's just an observation. Hell, numerous other guitar solo artists started out working with vocalists and came away so scared by the experience that they never went back. Can't say as I blame them. Overall this is a good instrumental effort. Disclaimer: this writer currently sings in a band, hence the shit talking. Disclaimer to the disclaimer: but singers are a pain. Crave Magazine Jesse Lynch. Heathen Machines features a steady stream of hard edged melodic rock instrumentals with catchy chorus lines, layered harmonics, and memorable hooks. The attitude and vibe of the tracks is clearly 80's - early 90's metal, yet the sonics of the album are very contemporary. Rich has taken the recipe from yesterday and made it very palatable, relevant, and even fresh nearly two decades later, imagine old 80s Metallica doing an instrumental album. The cd offers cuts that have a bit more to chew on in terms of musicianship. As a result, the melodies and hooks really hit you like a sledgehammer after about the second listen. Highly recommended! . – There is also a bonus DVD containing a chilling music video for the track Test Subjects. Tracklisting: Warbride; Bloodtrails; Throwdown; Disciple; Where Are You?; Hessian Divisions; Libido Unleashed; Test Subjects; Crooks n Demons; Spanish Devils; Nasty Christians; Hand Over Fist; Sinister; Alone. Personnel: Rich Fortuna – Guitars, bass, keyboards; Jose Lopez – Bass; Ben Saltzman – Drums; David Snediker – Drums. Similar Artists: Metallica, Sepultura Playing Time: 53:18 Review by: Instrumental Observer”