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Upon reading the only review for this album, I felt an instant need to give this a different point of view. Sometimes people condition themselves to expect a particular sound and are disappointed when the album doesn't deliver exactly that. The one thing that sticks out is that this band is constantly refered to as progressive, and mentioned with Dream Theater and Queensryche. This, to me, seems wholly unwarranted. Racer X have always been a balls-out rock band with some of the most exciting musicians around. I hear tinges of progressive influence, but as a whole, this is simply a heavy rock band. Now, that said....
Anyone familiar with Paul Gilbert will know to expect blisteringly fast and intricate playing. But his songwriting often gets disregarded amongst all the shredding. This album is the best example of his songwriting skills. The opener could be a Judas Priest song if those guys knew how to shred 1/10 as well as Mr. Gilbert. Jeff Martin has a solid falsetto range that certainly rivals that of Halford or any of his non-senior citizen peers. Also, Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis does more than an adequate job behind the kit. Nothing flashy, but certainly well thought out and perfectly executed drumming. But altogether with John Alderete, you have a monster unit that finally made an album consistant from start to finish.
The two instrumentals on here are absolutely amazing. Speaking from a guitarists point of view, there is no better. If you can play these songs on guitar, solo's and all, you have mastered rock guitar. While King of Monsters is a fast paced, energetic song, Viking Kong is the more stylistic of the two. Drawing upon his bag of tricks, Gilbert plays some absolutely genius classical passages with a technique that cannot be duplicated. If the whole album were instumental, it certainly wouldn't bother me, as Gilbert is wholly entertaining in and of himself. But it's not, and that's good, because Martin makes good use of his space on songs like Mad at the World. Possibly the best Racer X song, it is the song that Eddie & Alex wish they had written. Great down to Earth lyrics, beautiful yet rockin' chord structures, and a pace that just simply moves you. Speaking of moving, check out the cover of Godzilla (Blue Oyster Cult). The way Martin screams over the intro melody, pure testosterone. That must have taken a couple of tries.
All in all, this is a hell of an album. Certainly head and shoulders above anything else under the Racer X name, or even Paul Gilbert. Anyone expecting serious complex passages, intricate time changes, and 20 minute songs should stay away. This is a shred album, rock on the outside, but performed by musicians who spent way too much time honing their craft and too little time drinking and fucking, much to the benefit of the enlightened listener.
Check out Mad at the World, if you don't like this song, get your head examined, you may have serious brain damage.