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Bad DNA, Marty Friedman's 2010 offering, is a hard one to place in the discography of the great Marty Friedman. I bought it on impulse again, buying it the day it came out in Japan. It seems he took the experimental electronic influences scattered scarcely across his post-Megadeth albums (think Cheer Girl Rampage) and incorporated them further into his guitar-driver music. In addition, the liner notes say that title track Bad DNA, Weapons of Ecstasy, and Glorious Accident are written by Friedman, Matsuura. I suspect it involves Takeomi Matsuura, who does some sequencing work on this album too and not the well-known Japanese pop singer Aya Matsuura. Anyway, on to the content!
The drums and bass work I won't even discuss. No drummer is mentioned and the liner notes seem to suggest that a drum machine was used. In any case, the drumming is pretty basic. It sounds electronic, too, so that checks out. Most of the time it's not too noticeable.
The guitar work, then, is I feel good all the time, but not great all the time. The melodies are always good, some are great, and few are amazing. It falls a bit short in certain spots. It's slightly less good than on his previous albums. There are songs, though, where the guitar work is amazing. Exorcism Parade and Random Star are such songs which I undoubtedly will come to discuss soon.
The opening track, Specimen, is an odd one. It's quite a heavy song, but features heavy use of electronic beats. It works most of the song, but it gets weird just at the end of the song. The title track fares much better in my opinion, relying on strong melodies to carry the song, but still being heavy. It's the song you've most likely heard off this album already and I think it's a good one, too. As I've already hinted at, Weapons of Ecstasy doesn't have the strongest melodies, but it still works well enough. Hatejoke doesn't have the strongest melodies either and I think that one might be the candidate for weakest song on the record. It's not the most interesting song ever until the guitar picks up at 1:40 and then it's only one minute till the end of the song. The song I feel compelled to mention on this album is Random Star. It's a tale of musical brilliance, really. It's got weird chord patterns in the atmospheric start of the song and then builds up to a crescendo of brilliant, fast, and melodic lead work. One of his best songs of the 'new Marty', in my opinion. It is very good.
Picture is more mellow than the rest of the album, coming in just beyond the halfway mark, yet it doesn't feel out of place. The next two songs are, again, melody driven while Exorcism Parade, the penultimate song, is just an angry beast ready to smash any and all who oppose it. While the first thirty seconds will leave you wondering whether I've gone out of my mind calling this particular song 'angry', it shoots off shortly after the half-minute mark. It sounds very angry and energetic, but still manages to be melodic. Fans of heavy music will probably be pleased by this song most of all off of Bad DNA. Time To Say Goodbye does what it says. I'm assuming you know the song (it's a cover) and if not by title, you'll surely recognize the melody. It's quite unremarkable and sticks very close to the original melodies, though there's a very cool guitar solo just into the second minute. It's definitely a worthy closing song. It works very well.
All in all, I feel this is not as strong an effort as the two Jukeboxes. It is more experimental as mentioned before. While the word 'experimental' at times can make metal lovers shudder, it is not necessarily bad. And it's not bad here. The drum machine and generally the electronic sounds it brings forth can be a turn off for some listeners I don't doubt, but I think it's worth at least a try. It's not as obnoxious as you would perhaps think. There's some undeniably great songs on this record though, Random Star especially. But the songs overall are pretty good. I don't think they quite live up to the standard of Tokyo Jukebox, though. The melodies are (understandably so) not as strong and the electronic sound can be off-putting at times. Still, this is a pretty strong effort and is worth picking up, especially if you like Marty's (recent) music.