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Sean Baker Orchestra, The - Baker's Dozen (8/10) - USA - 2009

Genre: Instrumental Metal / Groove Metal
Label: Lion Music
Playing time: 57:32
Band homepage: Sean Baker Orchestra, The


  1. Dukes Of New York
  2. Pummel U
  3. Ballvice
  4. Neo-Classical Gas
  5. 7/24/04
  6. Steve’s Blackout
  7. Playing Possum
  8. Poindexter
  9. Highway Star
  10. Mike Varney’s Mexican Vacation
  11. Whichway To Radioland?
  12. Verbal Skillz
  13. 2 Part Invention In C Major
Sean Baker Orchestra, The - Baker's Dozen

Perhaps in some parallel universe you can have 13 of something and accurately call it a dozen. But within the confines of this one, unless we’re talking about Chuck Norris walking into a Dunkin Donuts and telling them that’s how it’s going to be, the only place where it really makes sense is on Sean Baker’s latest concoction “Baker’s Dozen”. Like a true master baker in the fine art of shredding Heavy Metal dessert dishes, he has put together another breakfast of sweet-toothed champions that would be fit for radio if those who regularly partake in the realm of the DJ could be bothered with quality music.


The style employed by Baker and company was described by the band leader himself on the debut album as “METALLICA meets RACER X”. This is particularly the case if taking into account several commonalities between “The Black Album” in terms of a riffing approach and some of the later offerings by RACER X and even some of PAUL GILBERT’S solo albums when looking at the lead work. Everything is as tight and controlled as a NEVERMORE album, but without the over-long redundancies and sloppy vocal delivery, ergo it bears something of a commonality to JEFF LOOMIS’ recent solo work, with a bit of late 90s MALMSTEEN styled Neo-Classical Groove and RUSTY COOLEY’S dark and heavy riffs meet flighty fret flying majesty.


Sean Baker elaborated in reviews preceding this album’s release that it was going to be a heavier and crazier take on the band’s sound, and this proves to be the case right from the get go. Although quite groovy and symmetrically structured, most of the heavier songs on here show a forward progressing take on riffing, rather than getting bogged down in droning repetition. “Steve’s Blackout” particularly bucks the PANTERA paradigm and throws together a rather impressive set of flowing neo-tonal solos and rippling MALMSTEEN inspired riffs, minus the Baroque trappings. “Ballvice” and “Poindexter” have a plainer take on riffing in line with the early 90s Groove paradigm, but balance out the equation with wild leads that rival JOHN PETRUCCI.


Although a very entertaining listen from start to finish, like with the previous album, there are a few areas where Baker seems to be playing it a bit safe and going through the motions rather than going for the jugular. The cover of “Highway Star” is a little bit heavier and definitely more modern sounding, but does little other than transfer John Lord’s crazy organ solo and Ian Gillian’s vocals over to the guitar. “Whichway To Radioland?” goes a bit for a JOE SATRIANI approach to a straight Rock instrumental, being plenty catchy, but also a little too derivative. The two shorter acoustic instrumentals are also a bit lacking, though pleasant enough to the ear. “7/24/04” actually reminds very heavily of a DOKKEN ballad from “Long Way Home”.


Suffice to say, this is a mixed assortment of sweet treats, much like the dozen donut combination that the album’s title invokes. Some of it’s loaded with sugary melodies, some of it is a bit darker like a chocolate pastry with no sprinkles, but it all tastes pretty good if you like the superimposition of some 70s and 80s Metal influences on a fairly 90s oriented Groove album in an instrumental, guitar oriented format. Sean Baker definitely holds his own as a soloist and his orchestra definitely keeps up their end of things. Check out “Verbal Skillz” for an amazing guest slot by wild shredder RUSTY COOLEY and “Neo-Classical Gas” for an injection of sweep picking brilliance courtesy of JOE STUMP.

(Online July 9, 2009)

Jonathan Smith

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