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Enough to Support the Shred - 75%

soul_schizm, June 29th, 2011

This first release from Fredianelli's early project is a decent one to track down, if only for the promise it showed in the budding career of Tony as a guitar player and songwriter.

At the time Fredianelli had only been playing a few short years, and was noticed by Mike Varney, of Shrapnel Records. The Forgotten Scroll is the result of this first collaboration, rounded out with a cast of musicians who would perform well, though one immediately realizes that all is given to support the guitar shred here, rather than each part of the whole standing out. Written completely by the guitar whiz kid himself, at the time this must have seemed like a great start, and indeed it is, although the inexperience does show.

The CD starts out menacingly enough, with the power vocals of Steve Plocica growling over a chord hammer-plod, giving way to Fredianelli's quick-picking rhythms in Penance (Keep the Faith). As is the case throughout, the songs serve to support Tony's freakish shredding, sometimes even to the point where the rhythm section will drop out (or at least into the background), giving way to sweep-picking arpeggios or ultra fast scalar runs up and down the fretboard.

In short, it's shred.

What I do find memorable is the fact that there is some leeway given to the songwriting, with some decent vocal lines delivered competently - if a little less than memorably - by Steve Plocica. Some songs stick out to me, such as the soaring Lost Children of Hope with its power chorus and alternating low register verses with high register screaming at the end of the chorus. There is some nice melody here, though the riffage underneath is fairly generic.

The instrumental Tablet of Destiny serves as a valiant bow to the Shrapnel fare of the day, with appropiate eye-popping arpeggio work, time signature changes, and ultra tight integration of guitar, drums, and bass. Fredianelli apparently wrote all of this himself at a ripe young age -- certainly a heady accomplishment, leaving your humble reviewer to wish he had stuck with honing his guitar shredding skills rather than forming Third Eye Blind (a venture that has apparently caused an immense amount of pain in Tony's life, but I digress).

And then there's Riding in the Night, which deserves special mention. Where this song came from, I do not know. But to my ears, it's a bolt from heaven, a true power/prog metal delight. Plocica delivers the vocal performance of his life, with actual emotion, as if he's not just hired to support a young shredder for Mike Varney. You know -- as if this is an actual BAND. Fredianelli's rhythms are right in the pocket, working perfectly with the alternating double-bass drumming and semi-galloping attack of the chorus. And that chorus -- it's the moment of the CD. If for no other reason than this song, The Forgotten Scroll is worth a little effort to track down.

The production is typical Varney/Shrapnel fare, which I always found to be somewhat disappointing. A lot of the mix lives in the mid-range without enough low bass or high clash to support it. I'd like to hear a more isolated remix, but obviously that's out of the question.

I understand there have been several bootlegs of this early Apocrypha album. Mine was acquired as a Japanese release and sounds good enough. If you are lucky enough to track it down, it's a worthwhile listen, if a little flawed. Riding in the Night makes it all worthwhile in the end.