Local band hits new highs on latest album

Having heard his fill, Jimmy Pappa sets his Bud Light down and heads off to spare the Tap House from yet another Beyonce tune.

The burly bassist, who a buzzed patron at the bar likens to country singer Zac Brown thanks to his thick beard and stocking cap, heads to the jukebox and ends the parade of pop hits with a burst of thrash.

Before long, as Pappa returns to the table to rejoin two of his bandmates in hard-hitting instrumental quartet Dinner Music for the Gods, Megadeth’s “Holy Wars” roars into the room.

Tunes by Slayer and Dio follow, but they only tell part of the story when it comes to this bunch.

Yeah, they were weaned on classic metal — guitarist Andy Heilman sports a King Diamond T-shirt on this night, as if to underscore this point.

But there’s plenty of jazz fusion, Latin and Middle Eastern musical flourishes in the band’s progressive, yet easily digestible, involved yet catchy repertoire.

Their new record, the excellent, contrast-heavy “Beautiful and Treacherous,” which is available on iTunes and Amazon, is full of adventurous arrangements, Guitar Hero soloing and fevered percussion from drummer Matt Muntean. But it’s all vacuum-packed into catchy, concise tunes that often belie the complexity bubbling beneath the surface.

“It’s certainly not our goal to be technical at all,” guitarist Darrin Pappa says. “Obviously, it’s progressive, so there is a technical aspect to it, but it’s definitely not contrived. We want listenable songs where people go, ‘I want to put that album on because I like that song,’ rather than, ‘Dude, listen to these guys shred.’ ”

It’s this mix of immediacy and intricacy that the band has nailed on “Beautiful and Treacherous.”

“We kind of found a style of ours that really hadn’t been established yet, even with the last record — lots of those were older tunes,” Jimmy says, alluding to the band’s previous album, “Blood and Red Wine.”

The style that Jimmy speaks of is posited upon knowing when to pull back and when to overwhelm.

“If anything’s changed it’s just experience and maturity and knowing when to let a song breathe,” Darrin says. “Rather than ramming some cool part down your throat, you give a taste of it, and then you roll back on the instruments and tempo and let things breathe.”

It’s all heightened by a crisp, in-your-face production. The album was tracked by Frank Klepacki who, as drummer for The Bitters — in addition to helming other projects — knows how to capture an instrumental band in their element.

“We didn’t want a lot of bells and whistles,” Darrin says, his band already having taken care of that.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.

Find more on Las Vegas’ music scene at bestoflasvegas.com.