If any of you are into metal, you’ve probably heard of Plini, the virtuosic Austrailian-born guitarist known for his jazz-fusion approach to the progressive metal genre (if you haven’t, check out his YouTube channel here). Plini’s newest album, Handmade Cities, was arguably his best release yet, being praised by music legend Steve Vai himself, and had an almost infinite number of catchy melodies, hooks, and guitar solos. On the surface, it’s a guitar player’s dream album, but we all know I’m writing about it because of its crazy bass parts, courtesy of Simon Grove.
And they truly are crazy. Although, as pictured, Plini is usually front and centre on stage, right now, I’m putting his bassist in the spotlight. Simon Grove is somewhat of an unsung hero, as he hasn’t had the time to become as famous as other legends of the metal genre like Cliff Burton or Steve Harris, but after hearing his bass parts on Handmade Cities, I knew that Grove had established himself as one of my personal favourite metal bassists.
But what sets him apart? Well, after a couple listens of the album, my immediate response was his insane technique. Grove can slap, he can tap, he can play fast – he can pretty much do it all. He posted a playthrough video of the Plini track “Cascade” a while back, and he literally does all three aforementioned things flawlessly. Honestly, from a technical perspective, when I look at Simon Grove, I see a bassist that has every trick up his sleeve, and it makes me really jealous. He can keep up with any crazy, jazzy, or ultra-fast riff that Plini throws at him, making him an ideal part of any rhythm section.
Let’s slow down, though. Why does it even matter that Simon Grove is so good, besides the fact that it’s fun to listen to? Well, I think it’s because Grove’s playing could teach all bassists a valuable lesson. While most metal bassists are known to have an insane amount of technical skill, metal is also notorious for the bass part being exactly the same as the guitar part. While I still think it’s super fun to play a crazy riff alongside the guitar, a la “Holy Wars” or “Run to the Hills”, I always found it more refreshing playing along to songs on Handmade Cities. And the reason why is simple: Grove switches his playing up.
It’s as easy as that. Switch up your style: don’t always copy the guitar part. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should abandon your job as the foundation of the song, just never be afraid to add embellishments or complement other parts by playing different rhythms. In Grove’s playthrough of “Handmade Cities”, he shows this idea perfectly: he locks in with the drums and rhythm guitar, but still adds in the little flourishes that make the bass part uniquely Simon Grove. For any bassist, giving your bass part your own personality is what makes it worth listening to.
How do you change up your basslines? What do you think about Simon Grove? Leave a comment below!