By the Great Sun Jester

 An exciting new entity, Niacin includes renowned bassist Billy Sheenan, drummer Dennis Chambers, and keyboardist John Novello. Released by Prosthetic Records, "Krush" is the trio's first release. This is an instrumental album, but don't let the pedigree of the individual musicians intimidate or distract you. This extraordinary release demands the listener's full attention, but rewards your diligence.

The album opens with the tremendous title cut, a frantic keyboard showcase where Novello demonstrates why so many regard him as one of the finest keyboardists in the world. His incendiary organ playing streaks with genuine flair across Sheenan and Chambers's precision timekeeping. The stuttering tempo might initially seem like an unlikely candidate for sticking in the memory, but the music has such fierce syncopation that its rhythmic power lingers long after the musicians play the final note. "Stormy Sunday" has the strut of a classic rock track, but its adventurous spirit infuses the song with its organic feel rather than any sort of stripped down simplicity. The band's musical line of attack is visceral and accessible, but a song such as this proves it challenges, rather than pandering, to the listener.

The slinky roll of "Low Art" pushes Novello's keyboards to the fore once again, but Chambers is the true star of this tune with his considered, but eminently musical drumming. The song betrays a bit of blues influence in the midst of its quasi-fusion stylings. "Car Crash Red" is a blazing, full-throttle rocker that bowls the listener over with its intensity and musical dexterity. Sheenan steps into the spotlight with some spectacularly fluid bass playing, but its chemistry between Novello and Sheenan driving this aural assault.

 "The Gnarly Shuffle" is a glorious homage to the keyboard fueled classic rock of the late sixties and seventies. Within the first few seconds, the music recalls Jon Lord's fleet organ work for Deep Purple, but other influences are in play. The blues influence hinted at in "Low Art" emerges in full here and, while the band never forsakes its musical chops, the beautiful simplicity in their approach deepens its appeal. "Sly Voltage" further reinforces this quality. Despite this being an instrumental album, the quality distinguishing this meeting of virtuosos is the sheer durability of their songs. These aren't merely instrumental excursions designed to flash their chops, but solid tunes that imprint themselves on the listener's memory. Highly recommended.