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I don't know what I was expecting to get out of Racer X's "Superheroes", but whatever it was, I certianly didn't get it. As the title of this review suggests, this album is wholly uninspired. Sure, Paul Gilbert is a talented guitarist, but his shredding skills are entirely wasted here. Let's go to the video tape...
The title track busts out of the gate in typical shred fashion with a lick so blistering that it almost loses it. After some equally typical breaks, the riff presents itself as tight but unoriginal. In fact, the rhythm section sounds as though it could easily be replaced by a cheap drum machine. When Jeff Martin starts singing, it sounds more like he's whining about the fact that he can't hack it like he could 20 years ago. The only saving grace is Gilbert's fretwork, which, needless to say, does not make up for the general lack of quality.
The decond track, "Let the Spirit Fly", opts for a mid-tempo groove, which, after the first track, actually seems better. The vocals stay out of the nose-bleed section, too, which was a relief. Unfortunately, Martin makes use of some vocoded vocals, which just suck (not always, just here). Gilbert's licks are few and far in between, but decent when they poke their heads out.
The third track is a cover of Blue Öyster Cult's "Godzilla". Just...no. The only thing this track proves is why it's a bad idea to tread on sacred ground (or, at least, why you must tread very carefully).
"King of the Monsters" is an instrumental track which lets Gilbert's guitar finally shine a bit more. It uses slow-fast-slow-fast composition to give the listener bursts of precision shredding padded with some heavy, rolling riffs. The fretwork is nice, showing some cool neo-classical influences at just the right times. Although it is a tad repetitive, it is still one of the high points of the album.
The rest of the album, save the last track, is quite unremarkable and not in need of much comment. Essentially, the listener has to sit through confused composition, mediocre riffs, and lamentable vocals in order to get some scraps of shredding that aren't worth the wait.
For the last track, "Time Before the Sun", the band takes a much more progressive approach (which is a good thing). Acoustic-like strumming, infused with an eastern flavor lead us into a rather hypnotic riff complemented by surprisingly decent mid-range vocals with only slight distortion. The song continues to play off the eastern minor/diminished progression, repeating it while Martin alternates between lower and higher singing styles. A few minutes in, we finally get a nice juicy solo that we can enjoy for more than 45 seconds. After the solo, the song returns to the eastern flare and rocks out on that progression for another few minutes.
The last track is a good listen, but it doesn't fit with this album *at all*. It sounds more like it belongs on a second-rate, Dream Theater worship CD (which is actually a compliment, as I hold DT in very high regard). However, it does help you to forget the last four or five tracks.
Overall, I give the album a big "meh".