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Pretty Much Just Shredding - 85%

Authority, May 20th, 2009

“Promised Land” is the first album by the project that is creatively called “Ferrigno, Leal, Kurpij”, after the three main members. With Kuprij’s earlier works being masterpieces of instrumental metal, and Lion Music’s reputation as purveyors of fine shred, I was very eager to hear this, but does this joint effort by three very talented musicians measure up?

After a short ambient intro on the first track, “Promised Land”, the shredding starts. A blazing neoclassical lick by Ferrigno, followed by an equally insane solo by Kuprij, followed by a smoother, calmer solo by Leal. And then more shredding. This is the template for this song, and pretty much the entire album.

That’s the one downfall of this album. There is a lot of ridiculously fast solo-work happening on this album, and under most circumstances one thing that I can’t get enough of. But in this case, it’s a little too much. The songs on display here are just vehicles for shredding, with nothing resembling a typical song structure. This may be a result of the more improvisational nature of this release, compared to Ferrigno’s and Kuprij’s other works.

The only real “song” on here would be the closer, “The Prophecy”. It contains a very nice intro melody that is actually repeated throughout the song, with solos nestled very nicely in between.

Besides the lack of actual songs, this album is technically perfect. The neo-classical keyboard wizardry of Kuprij, the ethnic stylings of Ferrigno, and the jazzy influences of Leal all combine to make a very unique listening experience. There is no doubt that these three are virtuosos on their respective instruments.

The bass is expertly handled by Philip Bynoe, but is relegated to the background. Jon Doman, on drums, turns in a calmer performance than on his work with Kuprij, but it is still very nice, certainly better than the drumming on most shred albums released these days.

This subdued rhythm section, combined with the incessant soloing, means that this can hardly be called a metal album. There are no riffs on display, and the rhythm guitar, when present, is far in the background.

Overall, this album continues Kuprij’s and Lion Music’s run of excellence. The typical metal listener will be put off by the lack of traditional songwriting and nonstop technical soloing, but shred fans will find plenty to love here. I have heard rumors that Leal and Ferrigno are working on the follow-up to this album. I eagerly await it, but one hopes that they will write songs next time.