When Glen Drover left Megadeth in the early part of 2008, it wasn’t just a matter of spending more time with his family. It was a chance to take a very self-indulgent journey away from the heavy metal mayhem that he had been surrounded by for years. There is no introduction necessary here, the world has grown to love the mammoth articulation this guy can deliver, shredding out some of guitar’s most heated solos…surrounded by “BIG FOUR” entourage & some of THE BEST thrash metal pioneers – like Testament. But there comes a time for every artist to “break away from the mould” & travel inwards, towards the root of the music that initially inspired them…leading them back to where their career all began…& for Glen Drover, this journey brings him into the realms of a “Metalusion”.
The project is a soundtrack for a thousand ages, a free-form improvisation mastered from a number of influences, taking you through the sands of “Egyptian Danza” to the distant landscape of a “Frozen Dream” – an other-worldly source of light…inspiration…& magic…not to mention the well-woven tapestry of skill & acumen that emerges. With five original recordings, & four brutally-orchestrated covers (listed as five for legal reasons), the album boasts essential progressive-rock servings from Glen himself, Jim Gilmour (Saga fame), Chris Sutherland (Kim Mitchell band), & newcomer Paul Yee – a local bassist from Winnipeg. “We didn’t really know where it was all gonna’ go, if this combination of musicians were really gonna’ work out in the end, to get to a point of actually making an album.” Glen tells me, “The whole idea behind the album…I was just trying to make something that I would like to listen to. I was, basically, making an album for myself.” Glen’s precursor fame also helped score some pretty muscular guest appearances for the project, the likes of which would include: Chris Poland (Megadeth/OHM), Vinnie Moore (UFO), Fredrik Akesson (Opeth), Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), & Steve Smyth (Forbidden).
“We were able to put something together to make an
album that makes sense.” – GLEN DROVER
Looking back to Glen’s early days, he started playing guitar at the age of nine…a native of Ottawa, Ontario – often swapping instruments with brother Shawn Drover, who is the current drummer for Megadeth today. Having a young-hearted passion for the heavier grooves of playing, both brothers began Canadian thrash/metal band Eidolon in 1993, which released seven albums (four with Metal Blade Records), & would eventually join both brothers to Megadeth in 2004. During this time, Glen would become known as a “Human Riff Machine” – bleeding out expressive, non-robotic instrumentation & rapid, clean runs…with endurance for holding up such tracks as the epic 18+ minute “Within The Gates” (Eidolon). 2001 would see the veracious guitarist join the likes of King Diamond for a couple of years, touring North America & engaging in a number of prestigious European festivals.
Through all the grandeur (& calamity) of touring with some of metal’s finest, Glen never lost his zeal for listening to & playing instrumental music…some of his greatest refuges being Al Di Meola, Jean-Luc Ponty, David Gilmour, Tony MacAlpine, & Frank Zappa – which gives clue to the selection of cover-tracks chosen for “Metalusion”. The mood (or sound) of a particular instrument is all that it takes to inspire him, & his emotional inner notions often allow him to pre-conceive the outcome of a song with little analyzation on how it’s actually going to be recorded. “For me, it’s more about the music…” Glen confesses, “…& the “feel” of that whole thing…not having to worry about what you should do…& just go with the flow. Play whatever the song calls for…go by what you feel the song is calling for – whether it’s rhythm, or solos, or whatever it is. That’s really the whole idea of music, I think…is doing that & trying to be true to yourself.” When questioned on the chemistry of the album, & how the musicians achieved substantial fluidity in the recording, Drover stated, “We didn’t really stray away too far from the actual tones that we were using…& instruments, & so forth. To bring it all together & make it sound like we’re all in the same room – it takes a little bit of work, but it was fun! It all comes down to using the equipment, & having the ear for it, & the common sense…& the experience.” Well-polished engineering is yet another asset to add to the Glen Drover musical resume, as he’s been running & working in various recording studios (around the Toronto area) for nearly two decades. The production of “Metalusion” is highly-advanced, taking it to the forefront of most instrumental albums.
“Consistency is what you want.” – GLEN DROVER
“We’ve made some great impressions (I think) in the industry, much more than I thought we would – because it is an instrumental record, which normally appeals to a certain demographic. There’s been so much great feedback & we’ve had so much great exposure with the record. I think we’re all really, really happy with the way it’s been received. I am very pleased with it, very happy with it…& proud of it.” The robust executions did not go unnoticed, when the illustrious Magna Carta Records picked up the album for a worldwide distribution/management deal in late 2010. Their standard of supporting high-quality, leader musicianship was a welcomed addition to Glen’s achievements…considering this had all developed from a simple passion to record a few cover-songs & took a span of 2½ years to finish. His precision, not only as a guitar virtuoso, but also as a constructive genius allowed him to pair elements of prog-rock with metallic nuances, energized keyboarding, & morsels of jazz fusion for the ultimate “transcendental visionary” – in layman’s terms, an escape for the senses. “Egyptian Danza” (a personal favorite of Drover’s) was the first track approached, simply because of the technical difficulty & strength of the song. Subsequent numbers came together without the pressure of vocals, bar-measures, or other sonic structures…which he finds very advantageous & “freeing”.
Glen credits the band for their orchestral finesse & ability to bring a natural evolution to the release, “I was really happy with all the guys & how well they play.” He talks about pairing the different genres & playing formalities together, “It wasn’t really that difficult, cause it actually seemed pretty natural…but there’s probably more prog-rock than anything else. We were able to put something together to make an album that makes sense.” All-in-all, it’s still a collection of songs that he gets really excited about. “When you’re in a band like Megadeth, unfortunately there’s no room for individuality…it doesn’t matter who’s in the band. There’s two different types of guitar players…there’s the guy that is more comfortable with ad-lib, & then there’s the guy that has to know every note that’s comin’ – or he can’t play. They’re both great…I’m more the ad-lib guy.”
A man that thrives on injecting personality into his performance, Glen & bandmates gave fans a “LIVE TASTE” of the album during a worldwide webcast from Metalworks Institute (Mississauga) on September 25th – which was broadcast from LIVE.MAGNACARTA.NET & received over 25,000 viewers. It was also recorded, with anticipations of making a DVD, which will be available through Magna Carta Records in early 2012. Only meeting the bassist three days prior to the show, Glen has faced this kind of stressful challenge before (remember, ad-libbing is strong suit), & they pulled together a riveting spectacle which was a highlight to the academy. “It turned out to be a really, really cool event. It was a first show, we had three rehearsals…& playing that kind of music (with three rehearsals) is not an easy thing to do.” If you’ve ever watched Glen Drover play live, you may have picked up on his very unique picking style…like that of the great Eddie Van Halen – using a middle finger & thumb combination. I questioned him about it, & how he manages to still NAIL the speed in his rhythms, “Consistency is what you want. I have a strange style…& it’s something I’ve dealt with over the years. I started playing a certain way, where nobody really told me any different. It was discouraging when I noticed all my heroes were using the index finger & the thumb.” No matter the discouragements, the renowned guitarist exhibits crisp scales & spotless progression…making complex time signatures look like nothing more than child’s play.
There are no imitations or “illusions” with Glen Drover – they’re not necessary. Just a regular guy that loves music, movies, YouTubing, & family…plus the quest for perfection in everything he creates (minus any “Pro-Tools” abuse). His “Metalusion” is a perfect story, & a legacy of his highly-innovative adaptability that will remain through the passages of music. Four DVDs with Megadeth, one album with co-writing credit, four worldwide tours…it’s a testament to perseverance & accomplishment…& a time that he regards as being one of the greatest in his life. But if you ask many listeners, “Metalusion” might just be his “BEST WORK” to date – because it’s so personal & rare. He still takes time for growing bands, like “Untimely Demise” from Saskatchewan, & has an all-consuming passion for teaching anyone who wants to learn…again, taking it back to THE ROOTS of the music that he adores. With further albums in discussion through Magna Carta Records, & currently globetrotting with HAIL! (featuring Tim “Ripper” Owens & a rotating list of highly-acclaimed musicians), Glen plans on settling into a more subdued Canadian lifestyle in the cold & coming new year. He will begin teaching one-two year courses at Metalworks Studio – the same place where the LIVE WEBCAST was shot at. Being the spontaneous musical inventor that he is, Drover leaves us with one final thought, “Anything is possible. I don’t really know what’s gonna’ happen, down the line, with anything…there are no plans.”
*** All photos courtesy of Glen Drover & Magna Carta Records.
Support Glen & his band on these associated web pages:
BPatoine – November, 2011