Christoph Whitbeck- " The Devil Plays Poker"
Looking for something different? In all its theatrical grandeur, "The Devil Plays Poker", will give you a good dose of the variety you've been missing. Up for review, we have the Original Cast recording, released January 2014. It's every bit as finely choreographed and executed as the live rock opera itself! With descriptive, narrative lyrics, you need not have seen the live production to appreciate the album. Singing of love, gambling, and falling prey to the evil allure of the Devil's promises, Christoph Whitbeck has written a small stage masterpiece with this operatic, metal-tinged work.
The album version is neatly divided into 17 tracks, each representing a scene in the opera. He's cast some really excellent singers and actors (as played in the original live production), who deftly portray the feelings of sorrow, hope and desire through their voices alone. All of the fabulous acting is held together by a score crafted by Christoph, who also plays a mean lead guitar, and the role of the Devil. Jake Habegger keeps the time and the vibe with his expertly executed drum beats, and joins the chorus in backing vocals, as well. The punchy and rythmic bass line is held by D'Andre Fontanelle, who also joins the chorus vocals. Saxophone is played by Derek "D-Rock" Currier, and it's perfect for the part. As for the cast of characters, you'll hear the theatrical and dramatic Michael Walker as the Card Player, our main character the story follows. Mysti Keller plays his mother, nailing perfectly the tone of a mother's worry and love. Peter Cunningham is cast as the vagrant, whose money the Card Player won, and his gravelly voice instantly sounds like a guy down on his luck. The fiancee of the Card Player is sung by Jacklyn Meeker. With her high, very feminine voice, she definitely plays the part well. Exuding kindness, love and concern throughout her part, she's a great pick. Christoph Whitbeck also plays the Barkeep in additon to The Devil, because he's that kind of chameleon actor and vocalist.
The music and melodies are all strikingly different throughout the record, and is a welcome change from an art form where an album can often sound like one long song. You'll find that each track musically and vocally represents the scene it describes, and there's no fluff or filler anywhere. I'm going to forgo reviewing each track, for I'd surely give away the plot and flow, and you really need to experience it for yourself, without my influence to bias your listening or give away the story.
If you're a fan of hard rock, metal, rock opera, or any awesome stage production, you will want to pick up a copy of the recording. If it ever comes back around live on stage, we'll be there, singing the lines and empathizing with the characters! It is a spectacle not to be missed, and we're hoping to see it again and again! You can have your own, on CD or download, by visiting: http://christophwhitbeck.bandcamp.com/album/the-devil-plays-poker-original-cast-recording
Check it out on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/album/588Y0M9vLZj87RYZnusXmZ?
Keep it cool! The Dawg