(Epic Records/Legacy Recordings)
As a life-long 'Shred' enthusiast, I'll be the first to admit that I've often found myself in search of the next big thing, particularly during the strains of my extraordinarily misspent youth. Having initially immersed myself amid an uncompromisingly steady diet of Among The Living era Anthrax, Judas Priest, Metallica and, to a lesser extent, Suicidal Tendencies, my thirst for new and un(der)explored tonalities had reached a near fever pitch. In short, I was ready for a change. Accordingly, when I found myself in the possession of a copy of Flying In A Blue Dream (1989), the then latest release from guitarist Joe Satriani, I was immediately intrigued by the axeman's fleet-fingered brilliance. Propelled by an array of eclectic material (“I Believe”, “Strange”, “The Phone Call”), the chart-topping effort thrust the former instructor to the cusp of international recognition. Now, a quarter of a century, later, I once again find myself utterly intrigued with the release of Shockwave Supernova.
On the brilliant Shockwave Supernova (2015), an expertly assembled fifteen song collection of instrumental Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the blistering, speed-of-light virtuosity of “Shockwave Supernova” and the flawless, over the top Swing experimentation “In My Pocket”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Reaffirming his mettle without straying too far from the glories of yore, the initial results of his efforts are indeed extraordinary. Wisely capitalizing on the veritable avalanche of momentum initiated with the release of the much-celebrated Unstoppable Momentum (2013) and Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards (2010), Satriani wastes little--if any--time driving home each key focal point. Offering both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike the opportunity to partake in the guitarist's legendary compositional flourishes, fires on all cylinders early and often.
Continuing with the playful, piano-infused vignette “Keep On Movin” and the refreshingly Funky--albeit occasionally blistering--“A Phase I'm Going Through”, the combination of guitarist Joe Satriani (Chickenfoot, Deep Purple, Greg Kihn Band), guitarist/keyboardist Mike Keneally, bassists Bryan Beller and Chris Chaney (Alanis Morrisette, Celine Dion, Rob Zombie) and drummers Marco Minnemann and Vinnie Colaiuta (Paul Simon, Sting, Frank Zappa) steamroll ahead with what can only be described as a carefully-calculated ease. Flexing his more than considerable creative muscles and, as a result, reminding everyone of his unabashed technical prowess, Satriani abounds without burying both beauty and beast alike amid the mind-numbing 'wankage' so often employed by his few contemporaries. Boldly tempering his trademark use of legato and rapid alternate picking with a searing display of genre-defying arrangements, the guitarist soothes as often as he stuns.
Co-Produced and Engineered by the acclaimed John Cuniberti (Not Of This Earth, Surfing With The Alien, the previously-mentioned Chickenfoot, Sammy Hagar and ex-pupil Steve Vai), other standouts, including the thought-provoking, emotionally-charged lamentation “If There Is No Heaven” and the melancholic yet equally impressive closer “Goodbye Supernova”, while not necessarily groundbreaking and certainly not revolutionary, are seemingly guaranteed to further cement his reputation as an innovator. Ultimately yielding one of the most thoroughly satisfying studio performances of his oft-storied career, Satriani now appears truly destined for a long-overdue career renaissance. Love him or loathe him, this is, a doubt, as good as it gets. With that in mind, what conclusively separates the mighty Shockwave Supernova--and thus the guitarist himself--from it's well-heeled predecessors is a concerted focus on repeatedly submerging the listener amid ingenious sonic wizardries.
But is it really that good? Absolutely! While not necessarily on par the notoriously-prolific axeman's most commercially successful and accessible efforts (most notably the Grammy-winning Surfing With The Alien, Flying In A Blue Dream and, to a lesser extent, the chart-topping “Summer Song”-fueled The Extremist), the majority--if not all--of the decidedly shred-laden wares contained herein effectively epitomize the true essence of Satriani's uniquely enduring chronology. Even if you somehow find yourself less than enthralled with the guitarist's already well-documented penchant for speed-of-light histrionics, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire his seemingly ceaseless dedication to honing his razor-sharp chops. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of an awe-inspiring reprieve from the mindless din and clatter that is the 'mainstream', then this, my friends, might just be the high octane cures for what ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Shockwave Supernova (2015)
Unstoppable Momentum (2013)
Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards (2010)
Professor Satchafunkilus And The Musterion Of Rock (2008)
Surfing With The Alien: Legacy Edition (2007)
Satriani LIVE! (2006)
Super Colossal (2006)
G3: Live In Tokyo (2005)
Is There Love In Space? (2004)
G3: Rockin' In The Free World (2004)
The Electric Joe Satriani: An Anthology (2003)
The Satch Tapes (2003)
Strange Beautiful Music (2002)
Live In San Francisco (2001)
Additional Creations (2000)
Engines Of Creation (2000)
Crystal Planet (1998)
G3: Live (1997)
Joe Satriani (1995)
Time Machine (1993)
The Beautiful Guitar (1993)
The Extremist (1992)
Flying In A Blue Dream (1989)
Dreaming # 11 (EP) (1988)
Surfing With The Alien (1987)
Not Of This Earth (1986)
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