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If the title alone doesn't make you want to check this out, then get this... Let's say, ohh, Lich King and Vektor were to have a baby; this is what it would sound like. And, I'm not even joking. This band is like the thrash metal father of Scale the Summit. What is the first thing one thinks of when those two band names, Lich and Vek, come to mind? THE RIFFS!! And, with a band that is strictly instrumental, the riffs HAVE to be very prominent. For example, it's if they were listening to Exodus and Watchtower, or Realm while writing their stuff, very cool.
But, enough with the stupid name dropping; lets dive in! Normally anything happy (gross over-simplification, I know) is pretty lame in thrash metal. Of course referring to riffs that would be considered boring; like those riffs that stay on the 3rd, 5th, and 7th frets. Riffs that any jack off with three weeks of practice could write without thinking. What makes Latvala Bros. stand out is their ability to write really heavy Exodus-esque riffs and TRANSITION (I can't stress that enough) into something that sounds very major. Instead of using the word happy; you could call these riffs "Uplifting". If you are going to have an instrumental album, you HAVE to make it interesting. In the first song, and title track, you hear things go from a very aggressive face smashing riff, and then almost instantly morphs into a uplifting riff with very bright leads. Those are all over this bad mother.
However, they are not all uplifting. There are plenty of riffs in hear that are very minor. Listen to the part in Night of the Lizard at 1:47. There is definitely something interesting here; like not just minor, but it sounds like a Byzantine minor, or the Egyptian scale. And, before it begins to slow down with an acoustic guitar, they bring you back with what sounds like strings or a synth; that then ends on a HALF CADENCE?! Yeah... They just played that card. And slows down, not with an acoustic guitar, but one of the most out there leads I have ever heard. Yes, Night of the Lizard is a masterpiece.
But, oh wait, EVERY FREAKING SONG IS LIKE THAT! If the words, "Instrumental progressive thrash metal with classical and jazz influences", aren't enough to make you hit the "Download" button; then you may just have to kill yourself. I would recommend this to everyone, especially music majors or aspiring guitar players. This one is a masterpiece.
Favorite Tracks: The Wooden Eye, Brutal Solution to Sexual Megaproblems (Oh yes they did!), Night of the Lizard
Roope really shows us what he can do on this recording, I'm not saying he didn't in Stone, but this album is just focused on shredding and melody. All of this stuff is worth a listen for Stone fans, if they can find it that is.
Production is very average; it doesn't really add or take away from the album. The drumming is standard for a melodic band... drummers aren't really missing anything. Bass guitar is pretty good, plays some generally technical licks and keeps things interesting. The guitar playing on the other hand, awesome shredding sweeping, great legato stuff, the melodies and riffs always make sense and give a good direction in the songs. There's so much going on with the guitars, you'd probably think that most of it was improv if it wasn't so tight and flowing. Maybe some of it is improvised... I'm not sure. It's like the jam album of the melodic metal world.
Overall a very worthwhile album, if you see it somewhere, get ahold of it. Definately for fans of the playing of Jeff Waters, Greg Christian, Tommy Vitterli etc. among others.
These days, Roope Latvala is hopelessly outclassed by his Finnish guitar colleague Alexi Laiho, only known now as Children of Bodom's rhythm guitarist. Many Bodom fans do not know just how great of a guitarist Roope is, and I find this rather said. But for anyone looking to discover just how talented Roope is as a guitarist, one can either go to four whole Stone albums or, if they are truly inquisitive, be like me and start doing some massive bartering for their own copy of The Latvala Bros Play The Wooden Eye.
Disregarding the long as hell title (which I'm not going to repeat), this album is a true piece of art. I find it truly amazing that an album like this could have come out and no one before the Latvala Bros thought of making an instrumental metal album like this. This is an album that you're average old school "80s only thrasher" will listen to and like and all those people who worship John Petrucci like he's a god trapped on earth or something will like. Together, Roope and Jussi create music that is artistic, clear, aggressive, and highly technical, and it all comes together in a package that just sounds great.
Obviously, the center of this is Roope's guitar playing. After hearing this album, I whole heartedly agree that Roope Latvala is the best guitarist to come out of Finland, and not Alexi Laiho. Sure, Alexi is a good guitar player, but could Alexi ever be this artistic and adept as Roope shows he is on this album? The answer is not by a long shot. Every aspect of guitar playing that one could think of,, from heavy and fast melodies to ripping lead guitar is on here. Roope's style is his typical one here, wicked fast legato with some sweep picking and a lot of string skipping and alternate picking to complement the legato. Here though, he also does a ton of sweep tapping and regular tapping as well. Lots of shred here in the vein of people like Michael Romeo, Marty Friedman, Steve Vai, and it can even get a bit like Joe Satriani at times. To top it off, the rhythms on this album also provide a ton of heaviness and raw aggression to the music on this album. It only takes one listen of some of the songs that this is not another recording by one of hordes of horrible Steve Vai imitators. This is something else entirely, and that is (mostly) due to Roope's masterful guitar playing.
Jussi's drumming is alright. Nothing very fast here, but he is very technical. His style has much in common with that of Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater. He's not very fast, but the way he holds a beat and how he adapts to all the musical progression here is stellar. Not to many good fills but Jussi is very varied, using all drums at his disposal with ease and great skill. If only he had a bit more speed then I could truly say that this guy is a great drummer. For now though, he'll remain at merely above average. Still, don't think Jussi's a bad drummer and his skill is a turnoff. His drum work is no reason not to get this album.
The bass work is alright. Some decently technical stuff but nothing crazy. You cannot really hear it much, it's just lost in the mix. It's like a ghost on this album. It pops up at some points, but most of the time you cannot here it and that is kind of a loss. Roope's a decent bass player and he plays some good material. I just wish maybe they showed that a bit more prominently.
There are a few downsides to this album though. The biggest I think is that when you listen to it, you can tell that the Latvala Bros was only a studio project. This music was not played with the intention of playing live, so many studio perks are taken advantage of. Roope overlays all sorts harmonies, tapping parts, and legato runs to create stuff that no guitarist could play live alone no matter how hard they tried.
Also, because the album is not mixed great, the rhythm guitar tone sometimes overpowers the lead tone at certain points. Like I said before, the bass is also hard to hear due to the not so great mixing and mastering job on the album.
The final thing is, the synthesizers could have been left out. Though they do not appear much on this album, they really did not need to be there. Roope and Jussi are all that are needed to make this album sound great. The synthesizers just seem to get in the way and do not really provide much for the music. Luckily, they are not hear in many of the songs. In fact, they are only in about two while the rest are raw.
A great album for fans of thrash or shred, this is one piece of instrumental metal that you simply cannot miss.