Review by Paul Sabin for MPM
Steve Vai is the guitar players guitar hero, and as such his recorded releases are a burst with technical prowess, dynamic sounds, and fretboard wizardry.
Vai’s latest outing is no exception, but this time he has followed a less predictable path with more variation in speed, tone, and style.
Teeth Of The Hydra’ takes modern, simple drum patterns and blends middle eastern influenced guitar phrasings which build into a mighty cacophony of sounds and wailing guitar arpeggios. `Zeus In Chains’ start out with standard rock beginnings but soon sees Vai pull more tricks from his bag, performing a guitar duel against himself where the loser’s notes die a death at the end.
`Little Pretty’ has feel good running through its heart. It’s a funny track in a kind of bizarre sort of way. `Candlepower’ jumps into a jazz vibe and though it’s got a lot of soul to it, there’s also plenty of gratuitous Vai playing then doesn’t enhance the song but does showcase that the man is still a total master of his instrument.
`Apollo In Colour’ moves into a Prog tinged mode full of long passages with intricate twists and runs. This lulls the listener into a false sense of security as the silky start of `Avalanche’ glides down, only to be followed by the god of all riffs which smashes all in its path. You can certainly see where the title of the track came from!
Vai puts his own stamp on the blues with `Greenish Blues’ which has a light, airy beat punctuated by lightning-fast trails of notes leaping from Vai’s fretboard.
`Knappsack’ merges guitar with synth and back again in a meandering prog-jazz opus that at one-point sounds like a bee has been swallowed by his guitar! Clever, certainly but tuneful it’s not!
The final track is the slow paced and dreamy `Sandman Cloud Mist.’ If you could merge the darting rise and fall of a seabird in flight with Vai’s unique sustained guitar tone, then this track would be the outcome. Simply sublime!
Steve Vai has played in some of the worlds most famous bands and that’s where his playing is most accessible. This release is far more likely to satisfy the Vai purist. For some reason it just doesn’t flow easily but maybe its just the running order that’s at fault as each track is good as a standalone item.
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