DANIELE GOTTARDO – FRENZY OF ECSTASY (ARCHIVE)

 

Out Now – Favoured Nations Digital

Long recognized in the underground guitar scene as one of the most heralded of the YouTube generation of uber shredders, Daniele first came to prominence as a voted finalist in the Guitar Idol competitions in both 2008 and 2009. In 2009 he was recognized as Steve Vai’s personal award winner, his prizes included a recording contract for Vai’s Favored Nations label.

Daniele has taken full advantage of this opportunity! Having already seriously honed his craft touring incessantly with some of Italy’s most well known pop acts, Daniele gets right down to business on this scintillating debut release. Daniele ripples off serious run after serious run whether picked staccato, shimmering legato or finely articulated eight finger tapping, Daniele has mastered all of these techniques. Ultimately though, what sets Daniele apart, is the quality of the melody evident in his song writing which enhances the tone and conviction of his performance. Personal favourites include “Cardiology” (2009 Guitar Idol finalist submission) “Marakkesh Market” and the rockier “Apocalypse Ape” (Daniele informs me that Ape means bee in Italian).

Daniele has set the standard very high indeed with impeccable technique, demonstrated with flair and disarming facility. Don’t believe me check out some of his YouTube videos. Serious fans of instrumental guitar should get this CD!

Rating – 90%
Review by Mike Blackburn

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GEORGE BELLAS – THE DAWN OF TIME (ARCHIVE REVIEW)

After the previous 78 minute one track effort of the hard to get into ‘Step Into The Future’, world acclaimed guitar virtuoso George Bellas has seen fit to make things more accessible this time giving us 19  tracks for our 79 minutes of listening time.  Obviously George is not short of material or inspiration, with the music proving that he is in the most inspired shape of his career as this is an absolute cracker from start to finish.  That said as Bellas has handled everything on this album himself with the exception of drums coming from Marco Minnemann he proves he is also a master of bass and keyboards also.

Seeing fit to deliver an album consisting of elements from across his career means forays into neo-classical tinted explorations as well as highly progressive skilled compositions gives us the best of both worlds for anyone with a passing interest in George’s career which began on Shrapnel Records in the mid 90’s.

Not only has Bellas looked over his career but also strived to improve things sonically too and this album is a beautiful work of art not only in composition but also production.  Shunning the current trend to overload an CD with volume ‘The Dawn Of Time’ is a god send for lovers of dynamics (even if it means you have to reach to turn your volume control/slider up) with Bellas virtually eschewing compressors for the albums creation.  The album has a wonderful sense of space and breathes beautifully, to top it off Bellas tone has been captured so purely tone fanatics will be drooling over this.

Highlights of the album come in almost every track from the simplistic (by Bellas standards) opener ‘Cyclone’ which will draw you in with its neo-classical feel, before the more progressive time signatures of ‘Seeding The Universe’ makes you wonder how George does it.  The neo-classical edge comes back with the glorious ‘Let There Be Light’ which is home to an absolute scorcher of a solo with tone to die for, rich in harmonics yet not overloaded with gain, the sound really shows that its all in the fingers and Bellas makes the string moan, cry and scream big time here.  The title track is home to advanced time signatures which Bellas manages to make sound easier than the average 4/4 before the stripped down almost easy approach of ‘Machine Man’ with its deep bass guitar sound (again tone to die for folks) and Hammond organ make a fine backdrop for Bellas to work his guitar magic over with some eastern tonalities and some Zeppelin style orchestrations. 

‘Voyage To Triangulum’ is a slow minor blues progression allowing George to get all emotional on us and the result is pure beauty. ‘Mysterious Light’ is one of the most experimental tracks on the album being mostly orchestral with space age fx, before the Bach n roll of ‘Mystical Dream’ will please fans of Malmsteen/Uli Roth etc, again the solo section is pure aural ecstasy for lovers of guitar.

‘Glimmering Stardust’ is another absolute highlight building throughout its journey where again the bass guitar and drums of Marco Minnemann (Paul Gilbert) are a joy to behold building with piano flurries.  The solo that begins at 2:09 is so emotionally charged it brought a lump to my throat such is the soul on offer here.  This coupled with the lone guitar over soft chordal backings really showcases how well Bellas has captured his new found tone and again the result is nothing short of stunning.

‘Electromagnetic’ has an almost 70’s rock vibe ala Focus to it with its pulsating rhythm and Hammond organ, it’s an easy track to digest too and a nice fusion of styles.  ‘Genesis Of Life’ harks back to the progressive territories explored on his ‘Planterary Alignment’ album with some nice synth work whilst ‘Carbon Creature’ is dark, with a fine sense of impending doom about it allowing Bellas to deliver some lush classical sounding melodies. The joyful light and air of ‘Suns Of Andromeda’ is a nice contrast to its predecessor and wouldn’t be out of place on an Uli Jon Roth album.  Trumpet fanfares introduce ‘We Are Not Alone’ which has an Uli vibe about it also thanks to its beautifully worked vibrato and stunning note choice.

‘Nightmare Awoken’ is the heaviest track on offer in terms of rhythm guitar with a riff that sounds like vintage Malmsteen yet Yngwie would never be this bold when it comes to the lead guitar patterns which sees Bellas maintaining a neo-classical edge yet eschewing all the stock motifs made famous by Yngwie.  ‘Primordial Atom’ is like Mozart on steroids and here Bellas is really smoking tempo wise in his lead work.  ‘Metropolis’ then takes a radical change of direction being built around a groovy bass line which leads into a nice new sound that adds another string to Bellas’ armoury. The delicate major tonality and laid back tempo of ‘Always At My Side’ yields more fine melodies and a sense of calm before the progressive and heavily orchestrated closer ‘The Angels Are Calling’ sees the album out.

I have written a lot about the music on offer on ‘The Dawn Of Time’ the music on offer is worthy of much more and its been a sheer delight listening to this album numerous times in run up to the review. 

With ‘The Dawn Of Time’ George Bellas has delivered his magnum opus and this is a stunning all round release.  Yes there is a lot to absorb, but there is also enough here to draw you in on first listen and from then you will be hooked.  George Bellas has proven himself to be the guitar virtuoso of 2010 and despite living in a different time and playing in a different genre deserves to be remembered as we do now with the likes of Mozart, Bach, Lennon and McCartney.  This is timeless music of undisputed quality making it definitive George Bellas.
 
Hot Spots : Pretty much the whole damn thing.
Rating : 98%

ROSS THE BOSS – HAILSTORM (REVIEW)

The debut Ross The Boss album could have been the best Manowar album in years, if only Eric Adams had been there to fulfill vocal duties. Concise heavy metal songs with Ross’ meat and potatoes guitar playing, a competent band and a solid if unremarkable production. The only let down were indeed the vocals. These songs cried out for Adams’ masterful pipes, and precious few singers are up to the task… The follow up offers up the same recipe, but with some adjustments.

In keeping with the trend of the last several years, everything is a bit more bombastic.  The songs aren’t quite as catchy, but Ross sprinkles them with loads of Manowar references (there’s a riff in Burn Alive that owes more than a little to Death Tone, for example). The choruses are mostly Teutonic and should see the horns raised on festivals like Keep It True.

Singer Patrick Fuchs, who put in a respectable performance on the debut, seems to be straining more this time around. I don’t know what happened to Ross’ guitar sound, but this distortion-pedal-into-the-mixing-board type  of tone is inexcusable in 2010. His playing is naturally up to par but that tone really distracts from my enjoyment.

While this is really not a bad heavy metal album it’s flawed in the details. Not up to the level set by its predecessor.

Rating – 70%
Review by Sancho

MINDSPLIT INTERVIEW

 13 September 2010

About The Interview
MindSplit is one of the hottest new progressive metal bands on the scene.  With their debut album “Charmed Human Art Of Significance” released this month on Lion Music we caught up with two of the bands main contributors vocalist HB Anderson and guitarist Mathias Holm to discuss the album in more detail.

Congratulations on the release of ‘Chaos’, it’s a fantastic debut and one you must be immensely proud of?
Mathias: – Thank you so much! Yes we are very proud of it and I’m also very happy to see that so many seems to like it too.

H.B. – Thanks! Yes I’m very proud that my “work of art” of a lifetime finally is finished and ready for a release. We’ve been working on this for a while and put down so much work and tenderness in it. I’m beyond proud…=)

How did the band come about forming and over what sort of timescale was the album written, recorded and produced?
Mathias: – HB Anderson and I was playing in two or three bands together at the end of the 80th century. But in the early 90’s we went our separate ways by myself more touched on to write and play instrumental music while HB Anderson continued to sing in other bands including Fatal Smile, Scudiero and Token. But then when one day we ran into each other again, I think it was the spring of 2003, we talked about start writing some songs together. We met again a few days later and HB told me that he had found some memos that he wanted to use as writing material for an album. I thought the idea was awesome and immediately began to develop some song ideas. During that time I and Conny Payne and Jon Skäre had recorded some songs for my second solo album. So for me it felt natural to take with Conny and Jon with me into the band because they also thought the idea with the notes were great and they also liked the ideas that I and HB already had recorded. HB already knew that Conny and Jon were great musicians so he hesitated not to include them in the band. Jonas, we met later on, I do not really know how, but when me and Jonas got together to record keyboard on some songs it felt really great and now he is our master behind the keyboard. This is the short story of the band MindSplit.

The subject matter of the album is a very interesting, built around real life therapy session notes. At what point did you know you had your subject matter for the album and how did you then go about condensing that and making a story out of it?
H.B. – When I got my hands on these memory notes and began to read them, I got scared at first but it slowly turned into curiousness and an urge to let the whole world know about it. To make music to it would be too hard to do by myself, so I took contact with my lifelong friend and the best guitar/songwriter I know Mathias Holm, and as you can hear he did a masterpiece out of it…

Can you give our readers an appraisal of the storyline?
H.B. – The concept is based on memory notes from Xerxes Anderson´s Artificial Universe (Prof. Xandau) and his therapy sessions in Europe and US. The concept involves 4 “characters” or “personalities” Prof. Xandau / The Mind / Demons / Karma and their battle, confusion, anger, sense to control or not control the human brain and human being. It’s breathtaking reading and it takes you from confusion and restlessness through insight and struggle to calm and no-happy ending…

What struck me most about the album was how original the sound was with the different musical elements and the great use of special effects. Where did the ideas come from for these different soundscapes?
Mathias: – For me it was because I wanted the disc would be cinematic. The listener should really feel that this CD is a story and not just mixed songs. And to enhance the feeling of that I thought it should be great to use these kinds of effects. Me and H.B has created almost all the ideas together. We had many funny moments together when we did the album, some times it tracked out and we laughed a lot, but many times it was also very good and some of that stuff you hear on the disc.

H.B. – Yeah, we had a blast doing it and we really got to fulfill our dreams making an album like this. We also got real good help and support making the sound like we wanted by Fredrik Folkare & Johan Dereborn.

The band is signed to Lion Music. How did the deal come about?
Mathias: – I know Lars Eric Mattsson since I released my first solo album. He helped me with some great contacts etc. I have much respect of Lars and think he is a very nice guy. He/Lion Music has through the years released some really good albums both by himself and other bands. So when we started to look after a label I thought Lars-Eric/Lion Music would be great for MindSplit. And when he heard our material he liked our stuff and gave us a deal that we thought was good and so he signed us to the Lion Music label. We are very proud of being under the wings of Lion Music.

The band has produced a video for “NMe – Myself and I” and I believe there is a second video on the way, can you give us some more details?
Mathias: – I got in contact with Long Shot Productions through the band SUBWAY, a band I also play guitar with. They have done some videos for SUBWAY and I told them about MindSplit and let them hear a few songs. The really liked our music and thought it would be great to do a video with us. Since MindSplit’s video shall be their 25th video they thought they should do something special and I can say that the video is looking really great! I’m sure you will like it too. We will release it on the same day as we release the album “Charmed Human Art Of Significance”.

Mathias, your guitar work is superb, aside from some YouTube videos and an out of print instrumental album I couldn’t find out too much info on you so where have you been hiding?
Mathias: – Thank you very much! I’m happy to hear that you enjoy my style of playing.   I’ve been hiding out in the woods hehe. I started to play guitar in 1985 or something like that… In the year of 1996 I released a instrumental guitar oriented album on my own called “Pictures of a dream”. Then in 1998 I lost inspiration for music totally and layed down the guitar… I never sold my instruments because I knew/hoped that the inspiration should come back. And huhhh… in 2003 the inspiration came back. Since that year I have been writing on the MindSplit album. Arranging and recording six songs for the OSV Project – “Mission One” album (an instrumental album released in 2007). I have also arranged and recorded guitars for the “Lola’s Themes” album (release 8th october 2010 through a sub-label to Sony BMG) with the German band called SUBWAY (Francis Soto on vocals). And I have also been writing on my second solo album. Please check www.myspace.com/mathiasholm or www.MathiasHolm.se for more info.

What gear did you use for the great tones on the album?
Mathias: – I used three different electric guitars on the MindSplit album. Ibanez RGT320QRBB, GODIN Artisan ST and a Fender Stratocaster. The Ibanez is the mostly used guitar and I can’t say other then, I love that guitar!!! When bending the high frets I got so beautiful “over tones”. The guitar was well worth the money!  As I got three young children home in the house where my studio is, I can’t play as loud as I want to do when I’m recording, so I used a VOX Tonelab first edition direct connected into my computers soundcard. It took me a few years to get the sound I really like but now I’m very pleased with the sound. The delay and the reverb is from the sound mixing tools in the ending mix. I hope VOX will read this because I think they should be proud of their products sound hehe… And hey VOX! Give me a new model hahaha The pick I use is a Jim Dunlop Jazz Three. I prefer DADDARIO strings.

HB, your vocal style is quite unique, indeed quite theatrical, who are your influences and do you like the fact you are different to the norm in this genre?
H.B. – Yes, I like the fact that I´m different to the norm of every genre I sing, and that´s why this band is unique because our influences is everything from smooth jazz to extreme death metal. My personal favourites (vocally /entertainment) are Frank Sinatra, Göran Edman, Frank Ådahl, Glenn Hughes, James Hetfield, Jorn Lande, and Ronnie James Dio etc…In this genre my top three is; Russell Allen (Symphony X), Geoff Tate (Queensryche) and Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder).

I believe you work in a lot of different musical areas – is this correct?
Mathias – I’ve worked as mentioned earlier with his solo albums and several projects abroad in Germany and US. HB. has worked in several bands like Fatal Smile, Scudiero and Token, he also works as a freelance singer in Sweden.  Conny has a past in bands like Madison and Alien, he is also involved in Mathias projects and freelance as a bass player in several cover bands such as ZZ Rock & Lobster. Jonas is a multi artist with his own studio, when he’s not a producer/technician to other artists’ he’s a singer/bass/guitar/piano player in different collaborations such as country band Ofärne Hicks, punk band Sug En Snut etc. Jon play drums 24h a day, when he not teach youngster how to play he also work fulltime in a hardworking/touring cover band Happymakers. Jon is also a high respected death metal drummer in the band Oof Expain.

How do you the band view the album now it’s ready for release?
H.B. – It´s a blessing to see the birth of a child…=)

Mathias: – It feels so good that we are ready with the album. It has been so fun working with it but now I’m hungry of start to write songs for the next album.

Is there any promo plans in place in regards to playing live – or anything else arranged?
H.B – We have plans for that, but we want to wait and see how the album is received and if we get any proposals for a tour in any case…

Anything else you’d like to add?
Mathias: – I hope you all will enjoy our album C.H.A.O.S as much as I enjoyed writing the music for it! Please support us by buying a copy and tell friends about us.

H.B. – God bless you all and take care of your Mind…

Mathias and H.B. Many thanks for your time.

Official websites
http://www.mindsplit.se
http://www.myspace.com/mindsplit.se