Alright I have never done a review before though I constantly read many of them. After hearing every track of this album at least 80 times this is my first attempt at reviewing an instrumental solo album
Album Name : Andy James
Album Artist : Andy James
Release Year : 2011
Genre : Instrumental Metal/Shred/Guitar Virtuoso
Rating : 9.5/10
2. Angel of Darkness
3. The Storm
4. What Lies Beneath
5. Burn It Down
6. Into the Void
7. Dust in the Wind
10. Bullet in the Head
11. War March
Andy James has been around for quite some time. Starting with his 1999 release "Machine" followed by "In The Wake Of Chaos" this album is Andy’s 3rd instalment. And somehow every time he seems to be getting incredibly better. Being a guitarist myself the first time I heard of Andy James is in one of his Lick Library lessons. Now after so many years of hard work Andy is slowly evolving into a more complete guitarist. Inspired by the likes of Paul Gilbert, Andy Timmons, Zakk Wylde and John Petrucci, Andy somehow seems to be getting better than his inspirational counterparts.
Starting with an eerie background score and a superb sweeping intro this album kicks off with the song Legion. Leading onto further complex fretwork Andy sets the strings on fire with “Angel Of Darkness” one of my most favourite songs in this album. One thing certain with Andy is he never loses touch with melody in all his fearsome shredding. “Angel Of Darkness” leads onto perhaps my most favourite track of this album “The Storm” where he shows his supreme alternate picking skills. And speaking of alternate picking Andy crosses all boundaries of this very technique with “Burn It Down” and “Bullet in the Head”. At one point of time while listening to these songs I felt Andy might have got just better than the mighty Paul Gilbert in alternate picking but again when I listened back to Viking Kong realized Paul is an alien when it comes to alternate picking.
Something very prominent in Andy’s style of playing is his tapping skills. To be honest I am yet to hear a guitarist with better tapping phrases than Andy James. Also very notable in his style of playing is how much string skipping and octave ideas the guy applies while playing.
A very prominent thing about this record is the rhythm work. Despite of all his complex shredding and face melting solos Andy never neglects the rhythm keeping the cool groove alive always with his powerful rhythms. The track “Gateways” show cases Andy’s legato skills. The album also has beautiful ballads with very touching melody lines in songs like “What Lies Beneath” and “Separation”. What is remarkable is the guy’s superb phrasing skills where even when he shreds full on in a balladesque track it never sounds like he is cramming too many notes or sounds out of place. I really fell in love with the melody of the song “Separation” which clearly showcases how much feelings Andy puts behind every note and how expressive his guitar sound is.
Overall this is probably one of the best guitar albums I have heard till date and trust me I have heard many guitarists and their solo work, starting from Jeff Loomis, Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Petrucci, Satch, Tony Macalpine, Greg Howe, Andy Timmons, Vinnie Moore, Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson etc etc the list goes on and on, but very rarely I have heard such beautiful combination of rhythm, melody and shred. The album, unlike many instrumental albums, doesn’t sound monotonous at all. Somehow every time Andy manages to spice things up or slow them down to make it a really enjoyable ride. Recommended for not only all guitarists but for every listener worldwide. Andy James rocks. \m/