MARTY FRIEDMAN – TOKYO JUKEBOX (ARCHIVE)

Out now on Mascot Records

 When one of the worlds’ best metal lead guitarists decides to release an album in the J-Pop style (that’s Japanese Pop for those not in the know) then you are right to feel a little trepidation.  However, if you look into what makes up J-Pop then you will discover it’s nothing like the pop we know in Europe or the USA.  Manufactured “pop idol” and gangsta rap don’t come into the equation in Japan, but rock does and it appears rock transcends all genre boundaries and fully embraces itself into pop culture – hoorah.   

So former Megadeth fret blisterer Marty Friedman (who is seen as a demi-god in the land of the rising sun) has not only moved to Japan to fully embrace its culture but decided to get himself a piece of J-pop action as it where (arguably the next logical step after moving there) and the results are on his new album “Tokyo Jukebox”, which is instrumental versions of popular Japanese tracks and in all honesty its not half as bad I feared it might be.   The songs were chosen in part by the readers of “Nikkei Entertainment!”, Japan`s all time number one entertainment magazine, which features a popular page on Marty each month for over three years and still going strong.

Essentially this is big guitar melodies over rocking back beats (mostly supplied by  Steve Vai drummer Jeremy Colson), its modern in its approach yet also classic in its melodies and for guitar fiends this is all rather enjoyable, although it does feel a little “novelty” in places thanks to a lot of the programmed backings where it does sound a little karaoke, or should that be guitaroke?  Friedman however sounds more inspired that he did on his last solo album “Loudspeaker”, however whether this will manifest itself into big time spent on my jukebox remains to be seen as although its all good fun when its on I don’t find myself wanting to put it on again, yet when it is on I don’t find myself skipping.

Time will tell but for now this is competent enough and Friedman delivers strong lead work over a different format to what many fans may be used to.  Give it a chance.

Rating – 75%


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ANGELS OF BABYLON – KINGDOM OF EVIL (ARCHIVE)

Out now on Metal Heaven

Angels Of Babylon are a new band consisting of drummer Rhino (ex Manowar), bassist Dave Ellefson (ex Megadeth), vocalist David Fefolt (who sang on the Masi album Downtown Dreamers back in the late 80’s) and guitarist Ethan Brosh (who released an instrumental offering last year). A promising line-up in terms of personnel who have come up with 10 tracks on their debut “Kingdom Of Evil”.

Unfortunately the album never really gets out of mediocre in the song department with a collection of classic metal inspired tracks that don’t really say anything to me. The performances are generally good throughout, although Fefolt’s vocals are gruffer than I remember and do grate a little after a while. Brosh delivers some good lead work but never does it show anything other than competence with little personality. Rhino and Ellefson do little more than keep things solid and there is an overall lack of flair in the material here making this heavy going for the most part with only the middle trio of heavy metal ballad of “Tear Out My Heart”, the driving “Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen” and the grooving “Tarot” pulling themselves out of the department marked mediocre.

Whether there is enough quality here to sustain a career is in serious question, on paper everything looks good but this debut is filled with too many plodders, one dimensional performances and an overall lack of excitement – not helped by a dark production which does little to add excitement to the proceedings. Be sure to check out some clips on the bands myspace before shelling out your pennies.

Rating -50%