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Expected shred. Got shred. - 68%

Myrkrarfar, May 24th, 2017

-Jeff. The song’s over, you can stop wanking now. That’s pretty much what went down in the studio when the Nevermore guitar masturbator ejaculated his first solo outing. Seriously, this isn’t as hideous as one would think. One of the metal world’s best guitarists decides to make a solo record. You expect lightning-fast scales up and down the fretboard. And there was shredding. You expect lightning-fast sweep arpeggios up and down the fretboard. And there was more shredding. You expect lengthy solos mixed with “melodies” that are actually solos as the string bender can’t hold himself even during more quiet parts but runs up and down his freakin’ fretboard. And lo and behold, if there wasn’t even more fucking shredding. But amazingly enough, Loomis pulls his ship to port and even manages to toss his blond locks around, wetting a few mermaids’ lady parts during the process.

Underneath the guitar wiz’s ADHD leads we find some down-tuned groovy-by-the-pound riffs we’ve all used to hear on his main band’s recordings. The drumming is immaculate but doesn’t take too much place in the mix. This is, as you might recall, a guitar record. The lack of any vocals whatsoever throughout the record make Loomis’ task to keep the listener interested harder, but he’s done an OK job at it. Harsh and pounding riffs with some fast picking patterns alternate with open chord sections where Loomis spaces away with long dreamy notes and gives the listener a chance to catch his breath. Too bad he can’t wait with the major wankery self-indulgence more than a few seconds into the more mellow parts, as there are too many fucking notes coming my way…and I’ve been a big fan of shredding since the mid-90’s. He also uses much of the same patterns over and over, but hey, the dude’s only human. He’s filled 54 minutes with guitar leads – you can’t expect him to not use the same combinations two times. Or five. Or ten fucking times in every fucking song. Or maybe I’m just ranting like a brainwashed zombie; wouldn’t be surprised if there was some grand hidden-message scheme to take over the world behind the almighty Jeff’s 666-plets. OK, time to remove the tin foil hat.

Some songs incorporate more weirdish elements, like the tripped-out Indian maharaja middle section of “Cashmere Shiv” with a jaw-dropping bass solo by guest artist Michael Manning, or the musical-like piano intro of “Sacristy” (with a screamy guitar solo over it of course). These parts really stand out from the otherwise thick and dense wall of guitars. Maybe he should’ve inserted even more strangeness, who knows. The album closer “Departure” is also a very nice and moody ballad-like thingy. Maybe it should’ve been tossed in somewhere in the middle of the album, though, to give us that long-awaited breather.

There’s no need to state the fact that Loomis has sick skills as a guitarist, and that he uses them well; but I can-fucking-not put him in the same category as for example Marty Friedman, Dimebag Darrell or Steve Vai because of a major issue: he doesn’t have The Sound. Meaning, much like Paul Gilbert, he’s an absolutely amazing guitarist and rightfully considered among the best in the metal world; but (technique aside) he isn’t that special after all. There are shitloads of guitarists who can master technique to a mind-blowing level but only so many who can make something of their very own with it. Jolly Jeff has his own sound, for sure; but it’s not as special or innovative as the best ones’ are – in fact, his sound is quite common today. Compare his riffs and solos, for example, to the Amott brothers’ and you’ll see what I mean (though the Amotts, especially Mike, are at a way lower level technique-wise). Still, this record is a nice testament to Loomis’ style and skills, but I won’t come back to this very often.