By Professor Jocko

When it comes to the legendary leaders of modern metal music, you can bet your ass that Marty Friedman is going to be in the top five; not just because of all his years with Megadeth, but simply because he is a mechanical wizard on the guitar that supersedes what has been done over the last 20 years. Now that we have that shit out of the way, we can  discuss the fact that he has been making a successful solo name for himself, which is an area often difficult once a lead guitar player leaves a band behind. Joe Perry left Aerosmith at one time (Joe Perry Project), Ace Frehley left Kiss to do Frehley’s Comet, and Slash from GNR went on to do Slash’s Snakepit just to name a few. Although all of those mentioned above are great guitar players in their own way, Marty Friedman really takes this album to the next level, where the guitars are the most prominent component of the music.

At first listen, you may be thinking that several of these songs seem to blend together. However, when you delve deeper into the tracks, you really understand the variety of guitar styles and genres that are used. Let me say that I’m not very attracted to instrumentals, but the more I listen to the different tempo changes, rhythmic patterns and overall technical prowess of these songs, the more I realize how talented Friedman is. This isn’t just an album that is simply nothing but speed metal; it incorporates classical guitar, blues and other rhythmic grooves that add a huge punch to every corner with an all-star lineup of guest musicians. The third track down is called “Wicked Panacea” (featuring Rodrigo y Gabriela) which completely emphasizes all of these techniques, mainly with a heavy classical guitar beat.

The first four tracks rely exclusively on instrumentals, so it isn’t until track five that we get a taste of some vocals; a track titled “I Can't Relax” (featuring Danko Jones) which does break up the monotony of the first 1/3 of the album. However, it sounds like an afterthought; something like a jam session with someone improvising some lyrics that doesn’t really seem to fit the song. As a vocalist myself, I am more particular when it comes to lyrics, and this just seems to cause an irritating distraction more than anything else. One of the more obscure tracks is called “Meat Hook” (featuring Jørgen Munkeby) which incorporates dissonant saxophone and piano melodies throughout that creates an odd enhancement to the likes that I’ve never heard before. This element mixed with Friedman’s scorching guitar riffs make this a one-of-a-kind track.

If you are looking for the full effect of the unity of a band, the latter part of the album has a few vocal tracks that work well in regards to the cohesiveness of the metal vibe. The song, “Lycanthrope” (featuring Alexi Laiho & Danko Jones) has the thrash-metal lyrics with a typical scorching sound. Although this is my favorite type of music I sincerely find myself gravitating towards the more melodic tracks, such as “Undertow” (featuring Gregg Bissonette & Tony Franklin) which is geared more as an anthem, relying heavily on melody, accented by lead guitar, hanging on a sustain with almost every note. This is then complimented by the consecutive track called “Horrors” (co-written by Jason Becker) that really pulls together all musical applications from the entire album as a sincere end to the ones before it.