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Stallone - American Baby (Limited Fanfare Records)

By: David E. Gehlke

[7.5/10] Post-Torche life for guitarist Juan Montoya has been busy. His work with psychedelic metallers Monstro garnered some quality press, and now the all-instrumental Stallone should follow suit. In a roundabout way, Stallone resembles the smiling middle finger Torche often gives to metal’s vast and antiquated conventions, as the cover art combined with dune-buggy racing rock aren’t exactly geared toward the leather and tattoo gangs. American Baby wouldn't float with that crowd anyway.

Six songs comprise of American Baby (which should be the name of a movie, if it isn’t already), and they’re each loaded with piles of 70’s rock riffs and heavier Kyuss-esque approach. Montoya’s imprint is all over this thing, naturally, as his textured, but simplistic riffs shine on “Ancient Infant.” Figuratively, one could imagine some of these riffs dropping in on a Torche record, even carrying the poppy torch Steve Brooks and friends are so keen to on “And Begin.”

“Beyond” brings in the funk, and it ends up being American Baby’s standout cut, with big, burly guitar action taking the proverbial ball and running with it, along with a Montoya melody that strokes like a oar striking the water. The gallop heard on “The Battle of Miami” (like Scarface? Or for the least-loyal sports fans ala the Marlins and Heat?) punctuates the album in fine fashion, with Stallone’s ability to build mammoth instrumental convoys emerging as the album’s defining traits.

Considering we haven't addressed the naming convention for Stallone, it speaks to how well American Baby holds up in the instrumental-only derby. Because it has more of a straightforward plunge than that of Pelican or Long Distance Calling, the appeal should be readily apparent for hip-rockers, who probably were already keen to Montoya's recent works.

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