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Marty Friedman > Drama > 2024, 2 12" vinyls, Frontiers Records > Reviews > Majestic122
Marty Friedman - Drama

Painting with all the colors - 95%

Majestic122, June 9th, 2024
Written based on this version: 2024, 2 12" vinyls, Frontiers Records

Marty Friedman has always been a musician that likes to write melodies that tug at the heartstrings of the listener. From the dread and anguish of Loneliness, to the ecstatic climax of Lust For Life, the warm and romantic sounds of Picture and everything in between, every Marty Friedman solo album contains at least some deeply emotional work. It is these songs that usually stand out from the rest of the album exactly because they don't fit into the metal mould that most people would try to fit Marty into. That doesn't mean that they are not good, in fact these are some of my personal favourite pieces of music that Marty Friedman has produced. I was therefore very excited when it became clear that Drama was going to feature a lot of these types of songs. Readers take note, this is not a metal album and it will not be judged as one in this review. However, from my point of view, that does not have to be a bad thing!

As announced, this album is filled to the brim with melodies that paint various emotional pictures. Joining Marty Friedman's guitar are a range of different (orchestral) instruments that add a lot of colour to this album. There is a song that represents pretty much any mood on this record. Only 2 Rebeldes is in my view unnecessary, being a copy of Dead of Winter with Spanish lyrics and a different vocalist. I consider this track to be like a bonus track, and Icicles to be the real album closer. To me it makes more sense that way.

The album grabs the listener from the very start. The jarring sound of a major seventh interval appears just two seconds into this album. Illumination really sets the mood well for what's to come on the album: an abundance of beautiful melodies and solos. Every song having its own emotional charge is very welcome, it makes each song sound fresh and keeps the album from feeling overly homogenous. What the songs all have in common is that the emotions that they reflect are magnified enormously. This is done in the music itself, but also in the track listing. For example, the despair-turned-hope of Deep End contrasts strongly with the high-energy, heavy Thrill City (being the only metal track on the album), and the reassuring positivity of the following Dead of Winter feels completely different again. The album's title is completely appropriate, because the album just sounds very dramatic.

Highlights of the album are in my opinion Triumph (Official Version), Tearful Confession and Icicles. The first of these is what's supposed to be the ultimate version of Thunder March or Triumph from his first two albums. We always knew the melody was good, and indeed this version is richer than ever in its arrangements of what are in fact, pretty simple melodies. The orchestral additions as well as the piano make the piece sound larger and more powerful than ever. Tearful Confession follows seamlessly from the acoustic intro of Acapella. Some intensely sad melodies kick off the song but as it goes on, the dark emotional skies clear as the song builds to a climax. And finally Icicles, which I consider to be the closer, is a beautiful and romantic piece. After a brief excursion to 6/8 time, its final key modulation brings the album to a soaring high point. Its striking final chord is a fantastic way to close off a fantastic album full of melodies that are beautiful, haunting, thrilling and pretty much any emotion-related adjective you can think of.

Marty Friedman once declared that while in Megadeth, he was only able to paint with grey, and that he wanted to paint with more colours than that. This album, to me, is the ultimate expression of that desire. It is beautifully colourful and diverse in its emotions, executed masterfully and as a consequence, is a genuine pleasure to listen to from start to finish. This may be Marty Friedman's best work so far. Highly recommended.