Maserati are a fascinating hybrid. They play instrumental hard rock in the vein of bands like Explosions in the Sky and Trans Am, but with frequent stops on the dance floor courtesy of Giorgio Moroder-style synthesizers and motorik drum beats. There are elements of Krautrock hidden away in the multiple layers working here, but frequently they sound like nothing less than a deep cut from the American Gigolo soundtrack.
This is a good thing. Hard rock bands frequently improve their hit ratio with the liberal addition of hip-swaying beats. In fact, a good argument can be made that the primary distinction between “Hard Rock” and “Heavy Metal” are those very beats. Call it the difference between Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin (or say, Metallica and Guns n' Roses). 'Cuz what the boys in the pit don’t get the girls understand. Maserati understands this, too. There is a swagger to these songs that fits hand-in-glove with their relentless forward momentum, and incrementally building arrangements. And the constant shifting and reshuffling frequently fills the role that is typically filled by vocal melodies.
Pyramid of the Sun is the band’s third full-length release and their first since drummer Jerry Fuchs died in a tragic accident last year (he fell down an open elevator shaft during a party in Brooklyn, NY). The band has referred to the record as a tribute to Fuchs (most of the drumming is his), and I doubt it’s a coincidence that “Bye M’Friend, Goodbye” is the best thing on here. Closing the album with a blast of pure bliss, it builds on pulsing synths and what sound sounds like chanting monks to an explosion of melodic, intertwining riffage and crashing drums. It fades out at 6:37, but it could have gone for twice as long and I doubt I’d have been bored for a second. It remains to be seen how the new drummer, Steve Moore, will sustain the high note that Fuchs has left his band on, but this is a great salute.