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Guitar clinic in session!!! - 70%

logan6511, March 21st, 2013

Let’s put it on the record that I'm a Jeff Loomis and Nevermore fan and when getting my copy of this album I was anxious to hear/listen what new impressive feats Jeff Loomis was going to do on this one. Though the album is not by any means a complete let down (the shredding is impeccable), I’m not sure this album hits the mark as an iconic solo effort. Let’s elaborate a bit.

The album is all instrumental shred clinic and by all accounts his trademark diminished licks are stamped all over this one. You can easily recognize his familiar runs and scale patterns that have made him a “guitar god” in most extreme music circles. Fans of albums like Marty Friedman’s “Dragon Kiss” or Vinnie Moore’s “Meltdown” can expect a lot of exotic scales/modes. However, I do not see any regular guitar playing enthusiast converting over this album.

Some songs sound just like extras that didn't make the cut on the last Nevermore album and just extended the solo part. Songs like "Jato Unit" have the same diminished runs he did on "This Godless Endeavor"'s outro solo. With other songs like "Miles of Machines”, you can hear a very similar lick used on "Ambivalent" from the Enemies of Reality album. These little details made the listen less attractive. Its not a complete sham or waste of time 'cause there are very good songs on this album and the ones mentioned above are really good instrumentals. It's just the “déjà vu” effect that some of theses songs bring you that ruins the overall experience. I do take in consideration that this is Jeff’s first solo album and that he probably was scrambling around with some material that he might have not intended to use with Nevermore at a point or time, but I still think he could had diversified a bit more or simply made a shorter version of this album. The difference between this album and any Joe Satrianni or Steve Vai solo album is that even though Satch/Vai have very familiar signature licks, I do feel that they use them in several contexts and different tunings, tempos, and musical contexts that almost make them sound like a totally different players.

Loomis is very comfortable playing this style and I do appreciate this fact, but a player of his caliber should be able to play a little more outside his comfort zone at a very good level. However, I'm NOT implying that Jeff Loomis should be playing Frank Zappa, B.B. King, or Hendrix, but a little bit of diversity and flavor would definitely put this album on another level.

Overall, I do think this is a pretty good album, but I can't say it blows me away more than any other Nevermore song/album. I feel all these tunes have been done already by Nevermore/Jeff in one or various different ways. Maybe us fans get a little too demanding and expect way too much from certain bands, artist, etc., but I can't sell this album as the best effort by Loomis if he plays exactly like he does in Nevermore and the songs sound exactly like every Nevermore album to date. That said, not too bad, just a bit predictable for my personal taste.