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Album Review : Marty Friedman – Drama

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Review by Richard Henry for MPM

Now I first heard Marty, way back when I got a vinyl called Guitar Masters back in 1990, the first track on it was Forbidden City, he is one of those players that within a few notes you know exactly who it is, and as his career has gotten on, he has just got more and more Marty, I am so looking forward to giving this one a listen!

Illumination

A delicate piano intro with a trademark flourish of notes from Marty, its immediately a departure from some of this heavier works and straight away you are carried off by the melody, reminds me of the track “Be” from the “Introduction album” just the way it starts, then when the huge synth pad comes in it absolutely takes me back to that and the “Scenes” album, when the band does come in its just a majestic affair with, now it keeps building up, in instrumentation, especially the layers of keys and synths while the guitar playing is getting more involved up until the heavier guitars come in and Marty starts to open up a bit more, although you never get the feeling of flash for the sake of flash, a fast run normally lines up to a singing note, then when we hit the key change and a somber melody comes in, it’s so mournful it’s just beautiful, the piano arpeggiation and then Marty follows it, that reminds me of Cacophony so much in the way they would do it, then back into pure melody again, what an opener!

Song For an Eternal Child

Again, we start with melody and a hanging piano/synth pad. Again, it’s very like Beatles melody wise, and then the violin kicks in and that is just gorgeous playing, then Marty comes in along to play the melody, then the band kicks in, it’s a very major sounding uplifting melody, it then breaks to a delicate little pad that sounds like drops of rain and the whole dynamics come down for a clean playful little melody, it’s all those little Ear candy bits in the background with the fairy dust and synths coming in very subtly before the band comes in again, almost like a Thunder March feeling part then comes in, very majestic sounding, it’s this sort of thing I feel Marty does so well, playing melody with so much feel and inflection and then when he does let loose its always got melody and not just shredding for the sake of it, even though he absolutely can do that, when it breaks at the end back to the pad and the guitar, it’s just so gorgeous sounding!

Triumph

Speaking of the track “Thunder March” from the Dragons Kiss album from 88, the intro to this should be instantly recognizable as the said track, different orchestration on this, more with an acoustic guitar and synth pads, you do get a semi distorted guitar then coming in a bit through to play the melody, that arpeggiated chord sequence sounds just as good without distortion as it does on this, again I know this song inside and out and I love the variation this one has and the way it has been changed about but it’s basically Marty’s trademark song really, it’s the Surfing or For the Love of God track that for me is the one I would always think of, again if your familiar with the original this is pretty much the same framework but what they have done with the orchestration is just fantastic and it gives the song a whole new lease of life!

Thrill City

First heavy track and that is a seriously detuned guitar for that riff, then it builds and goes right into a melody that literally could be for a Japanese anime show, yeah I am fanboying, it’s just a melody that will make you smile and if you are a guitarist its all the little runs into the notes and the bends and vibrato and all the little inflections that make it so Marty, even when the thrash beat kicks in its so uplifting before it changes a bit and we get a lovely little lick that leads it into the next section, was not expecting that breakdown before it goes a bit Chuck Berry, then trademark pedal point lick then more bends before we return right back to that melody again then the tempo and feel changes around the melody and it just changes the whole vibe even though the melody doesn’t change!

Deep End

Back to the piano intro, this is almost like the start of a movie score the way that pedal point piano comes in with just a subtle bassline being played around the main theme, then we get a bit diminished and you can feel something is building or changing, then the full band comes in with heavier guitars but it’s a slow build before a slow sustained melody comes in, on what feels like an E bow or a sustainer pickup on the guitar, has to be the way that note holds over the piano, then we are back again to a lovely mournful sounding solo, what can you say with one note? A lot if your Marty, the way he just bends and semi bends the notes then adds in some licks and a bit of flash but never loses the overall feel of the track with the licks, the song has changed several times, but it’s just so beautifully done!

Dead of Winter

Really bright piano to start this one off, vocal track here, and this one is a very radio friendly feeling almost early 00s sort of feel, like a Three Days Grace or Shinedown feeling vocal, to me anyway, that’s the vibes I am getting from it, almost reminds me of some of the songs from the “True Obsessions” album, love that little melody after the chorus part, it’s a really good track that so would do well on radio, when it comes to the solo, it’s no surprise again that’s it mostly melody with a few twisty licks threw in there as well, finishes out with the piano and vocal, lovely track!

Mirage

The start of that just has the “Scenes” album vibe, that guitar sound wouldn’t surprise me if it was the same Fernandes guitar he used back then it’s so close, before the band comes in subtly with a drum pattern and an arpeggiation of the chords up to a single crying note and again it’s just a melody that you will just want to pull out your guitar and learn, and there are some wicked passages already in there that sound like finger twisters, I love the guitar tone, its again reminding me of “Valley of Eternity” from “Scenes”, it just keeps getting better and better as the song develops, the passion in the playing even in the fast parts, then back into a melody harmony part, and the way the chords change in the back and then you get the piano becoming more prominent despite the heavier part, then before you know it the double bass is there and it’s just constantly building, before it drops back to a clean guitar and a melody played on again either an e-bow or sustainer, so much has happened and i am only four mins in! Then the next section comes in and again it’s just so beautiful, the melody and the whole instrumentation of the track is fantastic and again it’s all building with the drums and the solo and you’re just going on a massive journey with this song, amazing!

A Prayer

Now that’s an ear twisting bend at the start of this one, again clean guitar and then a clean melody, the chords are really interesting behind the melody as well, they are really ear twisting, then we hit a 6/8 time feeling rolling section with again the piano has crept in to it and its all building as the melody keeps going and the guitar keeps getting slightly more distorted as the track builds, I love that drum shuffle part and the piano accenting the arpeggios subtly in the background, now that’s a lead break, I think I have just lost myself in this one, it’s one of the best put together tracks instrumentally I have heard in a long time and I have a ton of instrumental albums from the 80s to now, sitting behind me, master at work as I can say about everything I have heard so far!

Acapella

Marty on his own and bear with me, it gives me Italian vibes and I don’t know why, again it’s just so melodic, but I am totally getting the Godfather vibes from it, it’s a beautiful piece of music for two guitars, again soulful and just so Marty!

Tearful Confession

This song comes straight on from the last and it’s just so chilled and just mournful, crying guitar, and I love the way you can hear him picking a bit harder to add the edge to some of the notes, so delicate but it’s just so effective, and the way the synth pads start to come in as the melody changes from minor to major and the song starts to lift before changing back again, then when it stops and the whole band kick in, it just gives me the chills, that guitar is singing and it’s a thick guitar sound as well just carrying everything before the song follows a new melody that the piano I feel is peppering before it starts to arpeggiate beneath the guitar melody, before it drops to clean guitar and synth again and then the band comes back in again, for another uplifting melody, I have goosebumps with this one, legitimately, that’s a stunning piece of work!

Icicles

A very sorrowful synth pad comes in and then you get a nice clean guitar chord pattern that then sits over the top of it, it’s like a warm blanket of sound enveloping you, there’s so much in that melody just in the phasing of it, before the acoustic guitar comes in with another melody and a really sort of Beatles piano part that again reminds me of “be” from Introduction, I love that little pedal point part the comes in before we go back to the verse melody again, then the distorted guitar comes in and it a real on top of a mountain with the wind in your hair moment, absolutely majestic, before it gets all ominous and dark in the middle section before the light at the end of the tunnel is another melody part! Then you’re back to another uplifting feeling section, I have said it already, this is just outstanding, the way the track is put together, the instrumentation, the playing, sublime!

Rebeldes

So, this is a Spanish vocal version of Track 6, Dead of Winter and it’s the exact same apart from the language, although interesting to hear it in another language!

10 out of 10

This is the best Marty album ever, I love shredding Marty, Cacophony, Dragons Kiss etc., but I have always loved Scenes and Introduction, and I love the solo melody songs like Corazon De Santiago, this has all the melody you ever want, the licks are there but never at the expense of the melody, the playing, arrangements and the songs are without doubt for me, the best album Marty has done and I have listened to him since 1990, so long into his career to put out an album this amazing is an achievement and in my opinion it’s just the most outstanding piece of instrumental work I have heard in a long time!

planning to tour extensively for ‘Drama’.

Band Members:

Marty Friedman – Guitar
Wakazaemon – Bass
Gregg Bissonette – Drums
Mika Maruki – Piano, Keyboard & Synth
Hiyori Okuda – Cello
Miho Chigyo – Violin


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