At this year's "Bang Your Head" I found a new Heavy Metal hero: Rick Renstrom, guitarist of Rob Rock's backing band. This guy had been born with malformed arms and hands, but he plays up there with the best of them. To get that far needs an incredible amount of willpower, so my HIGHEST respect for him!
"Until The Bitter End" is Rick solo, with the support of some top notch colleagues of his, let me just run you by a few of the involved names: Richard Christy…Rob Rock…Ferdy Doernberg…Wade Black…Mistheria…Mat Sinner…sounds good? Thought so. And as you could imagine, the musicianship on this album is from the finest, so can the songs live up to it? Yes, they can. What makes "Until The Bitter End" different than your usual guitarist's solo album is the fact that it is partly instrumental and partly with vocals. Definitely more interesting than pure guitar wizardry, isn't it? Exactly.
Almost naturally the style is neoclassical Heavy Metal with classical influences as well as the foundation of the traditional Metal and no matter, if instrumental or with vocals, the songs have class. Be it the driving "Calling On Vengeance" with Mat Sinner on vocals or "Kingdom For Ransom" with a Rob Rock in top form on the one side or the Mozart (I think) styled instrumental "Symphony #40", they all have one thing in common (especially applicable to the instrumental songs), they are all songs, not just a showing off of the skills of the participating musicians.
So "Until The Bitter End" is a thoroughly enjoyable album, especially because of the mix vocal/instrumental and this album only lets my respect for Rick Renstrom grow even more! (Online August 6, 2003)