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Metal surf shop

Monster Surf
Monster Surf: Surf Songs that Really Rock
By Gary Hoey

Surfdog Records: 2005

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This review first appeared in Turbula in July 2005.

Gary Hoey claims to be grounded in surf rock, but the playing on his new CD, "Monster Surf," is closer to '80s metal. Not that that's a bad thing or a good thing, it's just if you pick up this CD expecting the Beach Boys or Ventures and instead you get Van Halen and the Scorpions blaring out of your speakers you might be in for a bit of a shock.

In fact, this album is closer to a metal cover of "Wipe Out Scorps' drummer Herman Rarebell had on his 1985 solo album, "Herman Ze German," which featured D.H. Cooper and Michael Thompson on guitars – take that concept and extend it to a full album, and you have Hoey's latest.

Now, Hoey is a far better guitarist than either Cooper or Thompson. If no Eddie Van Halen – he lacks the bag of tricks that Van Halen seemed to always possess in his heyday – Hoey is an imaginative, powerful player, one who would be a star if metal were still king.

Running through a set that contains surf classics like "Pipeline," "Walk Don't Run," "Wipe Out" and "Surfin' USA" plus non-surf but similar songs like "California Dreamin'" and "Peter Gunn," Hoey shows that the art of the guitar shredder remains alive and full of vitality.

If there's a weakness here, it's that everything is played at the same breakneck speed. It makes for great cruising music – think 1971 Cuda or Super Bee running through desert at top speed, and this is your soundtrack – but it can get a bit tiresome in other environments.

Still, if not purely surf music, there remains the spirit of the Ventures about this, and surf legend Dick Dale makes a guest appearance on "Miserlou." Yes, we realize the Ventures weren't a surf band, but neither was Mickey Baker, and he invented the sound that became surf music. There's more than a touch of Baker running through Hoey's music, too, which could hardly be a bad thing.

Hoey brings a sense of fun to his music, some serious chops on guitar, and a style that's all his own. Surf music or no, this is a pretty good album.