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A maelstrom of stunning metal - 95%

Writhingchaos, June 30th, 2016

I’m assuming that most people know this underrated guitar god through Nevermore (duh) unless they are fans of instrumental metal. Yeah I know but I had to say it regardless. One of the few metal guitarists out there equally proficient in both the lead and rhythm section. As all of you know, Loomis rose up rather quickly in the last few years to become one of the most prolific metal guitarists in the scene today eclipsing even the likes Petrucci and Satriani. Before the lot of you go up in arms, kindly read on and you will see why. I get the fact that a lot of you might dislike Nevermore, but there’s no way in hell you can deny the guy’s talent, that’s for sure.

Even with the monstrous level of riffing on This Godless Endeavor, (a word of advice: please listen to the album if you haven’t already) you could easily sense that Loomis really had the potential to become a stand-along guitarist in the world of shred/virtuosic metal simply because of his unique lead phrasings, his distinctive ability to make shred patterns actually interesting to follow, or the fact that unlike a lot of the other guitarists in the scene, he could also write some really sick-ass riffs as well. One heck of a combo I’d say. Most other guitar players in the scene usually have one or two of the three traits. Here Loomis just lets loose a goddamn jackhammer arsenal of riffs and licks enough to level Mt Everest to dust. Yep, no two ways about that. The sheer intensity of each of the songs along with generous dollops of melody and groove is sure to make this album appeal to even those metalheads outside the Nevermore camp, assuming that most other metalheads tend to avoid the music of said band due to Warrel Dane’s vocals which are a bit of an acquired taste. Granted that’s just an assumption, but I’m just going with what I’ve read about Nevermore so yeah.

Now about his style of playing, all of you reading this review probably know that his playing is predominantly towards a dissonant and more importantly, diminished style of lead guitar playing with a substantial smattering of neo-classical influences (think more along the lines of Jason Becker and Michael Romeo rather than Malmsteen) along with the feel and melody of Marty Friedman, Joe Satriani and the like. Add a progressive thrash/groove metal template with reference to the riffs on display and you mostly have the gist of his style. If you found the above sentence a bit hard to decipher in terms of influences, basically picture This Godless Endeavor without vocals and a more elaborate lead guitar template to boot. Now that should be easier.

It’s quite hard to pick out favourites among the sea of shred-happy songs, but “Opulent Maelstrom” takes my pick for combining face-peeling diminished licks (with an epic main chorus lead at 0:26!) with a riff-happy neo-classical framework that makes for one hell of a head-banging feast. Definitely one of the highlights along with the blistering opener “Shouting Fire At A Funeral”, “Jato Unit” (that intro riff!!), “Azure Haze” (for combining a strange melodic picking feel with a prog structure), the blisteringly diverse “Race Against Disaster”, the amazing blend of a haunting and oppressively heavy atmosphere in “Cashmere Shiv” and “Devil Theory”. To sum it up - pretty much every track is kickass and has something or the other going for it.

Also I’ve heard people describe his playing as too “mechanical”. Pffft what a load of bullshit. FYI Petrucci and Malmsteen are mechanical in that sense, so kindly get your facts straight the next time around. I don’t give a fuck whether detractors want to admit this fact or not, but if you claim to be a metalhead with a pair of functional ears, there’s no way you can deny that he definitely plays with actual feel and writes proper cohesive songs with RIFFS as opposed to an album loaded with wankfests. Also another word of caution: his playing contains quite a heavy dose of dissonant and diminished leads, so if you have a strong aversion to that sort of stuff, you might want to check out Nevermore before this album. That way you’ll probably end up having a better grounding and understanding of his unique style.

One of the very few instrumental/shred albums that I can listen to from beginning to end without getting bored in the slightest simply doesn’t forgo the riff barrage in the slightest, pummelling your ears with an intensity that has to be heard to be believed, unlike most others. If you’re a fan of Nevermore or instrumental metal then of course, getting this album is a no brainer, but if you are yet to check out Nevermore, then (as I said earlier in the review) I’d suggest you check them out first. In either case, this doozie comes highly recommended.