SAMULI FEDERLEY – QUEST FOR REMEDY

Out now on Mad Guitar Records

Finnish guitarist Samuli Federley is an 8 string specialist with his debut release “Quest For Remedy” showcasing his guitar technique nicely. 9 tracks of rapid guitar fire show this man has spent some serious time in the woodshed, yet fortunately lays down his fearsome technique over some quite listenable tracks.  Marketed as a player in the vein of John Petrucci, Rusty Cooley and Jeff Loomis will leave you in no doubt that this guy can move his fingers.

Opener “Colonoscopy” (delightful title there) sums up with Samuli is all about, shred and big riffs coupled with the odd synth pad for texture. “Reality Check” is more progressive than all out shred and so we get some good chord progressions and more airy synths, here with Samuli using his speed in more controlled bursts gives them more punch and we also see some nice rhythm work too.   “Born From The Shadow” is one of 3 vocal numbers yet its all quite disjointed and doesn’t make for an easy listen.

“Pitchblack” is the most melodic number on the album and goes through several parts, yet it also features some of Samuli’s best work on the album, I particularly enjoyed the lyrical guitar work from the 2:15 mark which had an almost Uli Jon Roth style quality to it. “Seek & Find” once again fuses the heavy riffery with a more progressive melodic outlook and is a good track.

“Nightdemon” has a pretty brutal riff yet it’s hidden somewhat behind the synth textures yet.  But the track breaks out into more melodic waters for the solo which builds nicely.  “Silhouette Of Death” is marred somewhat by programmed drums sounding just that and vocals, by which I mean guttural grunts which are an acquired taste, yet the riffery and lead work here reminded me a little of Morbid Angel’s Trey Azagoth (one of metal’s criminally underrated guitarists).

“Liqud Fire” I guess is mostly is instrumental prog metal in the vein of bands ala Ashent and is one of the most listenable tracks on the album.  The disc closes with the ethereal quality of “Road”, home to a female vocal over heavy synths the track almost delivers an enema to purge all the down tuned riffery heard before yet Samuli lays down a suitable note laden solo as a final tonic.

Overall despite the budget restraint mix this is an enjoyable offereinf from the more extreme end of the instrumental genre.  The running length of about 40 minutes feels about right too.  8 string guitar will obviously be an acquired taste for many but if you can handle the extremes of the guitars range then you will find much to enjoy.  Samuli Federley leaves us with the impression of a talented player who has potential for more.

Rating – 83%

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TOBY KNAPP – THE CAMPAIGN (ARCHIVE)

Out Now – Shredguy Records
 
Toby Knapp is another contender to make a name for himself in the guitar virtuoso stakes. Freshly signed to Shredguy Records Toby is joined by other relative unknowns in vocalist Attila Csihar, Jeff Gruslin, Tom Cline and Dean Sternberg to sing on various tracks on this 9 track mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks. Home to a neo-classical meets early thrash and straight metal sound the album has a very rudimentary production where the programmed drums cheapens the end product somewhat. As a result some of the impact is lost with the dullish backing tracks. That said Toby’s guitar work is strong.

The instrumentals fare best on the album with opener ‘The Campaign’ setting things off nicely whilst ‘Towards Power Unimagined’ is first rate in anyones book. ‘Telekninesis’ is home to the aforementioned early thrash feel with some of flair of the likes of Exoudus shown. That said ‘Plutonium Race’ I suspect is from a different recording period as the sound quality is worse than the other very average sounding tracks. Sadly the momentum of the instrumentals is lost with the vocal tracks. ‘Conspire’ just sounds dated largely thanks to the weak vocal melodies and strained vocals of Dean Sternberg, a shame as there is potential in the music. ‘We Are Legions’ with its cookie monster vocals of Jeff Gruslin does however awaken the Carcass and Morbid Angel fan in me and is a nice slice of brutal metal. This is contrasted by the overly quasi musically accomplished post grunge of ‘Wicked’ with its Stone Temple Pilots feel! Dodgy vocals again come into play on ‘Reanimation’ thanks to the delightfully named Atilla Csihar and make the track almost unlistenable whilst we are ‘treated’ to Dean Sternberg’s vocals again on closer ‘Lack Of Inspiration’.

Despite the obvious skill Knapp has on the guitar, it’s a shame this quality control isn’t followed up in other areas i.e. production, mix, choice of vocalist etc. So despite my best intentions to focus on the positives the limitations of the weak areas are just too overpowering in places to ignore and a result the album comes out with a very average score. Hopefully Knapp can address the issues mentioned here next time as he has the 6 string goods to deliver going by his guitar work and musical compositions here.

Rating – 60%