Sunday, August 2, 2015

Joe Satriani - Shockwave Supernova (2015)

The instrumental land scape has changed fairly drastically in about the last decade or so, seeing a bunch of bands blooming out, trying to take it as far as possible with complex rhythms, technical playing, and reinventing the genre again and again. Fortunately, there is at least one thing with the genre that has stayed the same since the 80's, and that something is Joe Satriani. The American guitar virtuoso has been working in a steady pace throughout his career, releasing new material every other year, and shows with each release that he not only masters the guitar like no other, but also know exactly how to make a great instrumental album come to life.

Judging from the cover and the name of the man's 15th studio effort, I almost thought that "Shockwave Supernova" would be a very different Satriani album, a more powerful and heavier effort. But no, he fooled me there. It is the same Satch boogie that has been dazzling us for years, with a broad range of inspirations from the worlds of jazz, blues, rock and more. This broad range can be tough for some listeners who has limited taste in music, but it definitely shows just how well diverse the man really is.

There is an overall nice flow to the album, but I did wish that it had some more personality to it. The overall structure is awfully similar to the one in "Unstoppable Momentum", making it seem like Joe just used a "paint by number" approach to the whole song creation process. But in the end, it is the quality of the craftsmanship that really matters, and you know that Joe will bring out a stunning display.

There are a couple of songs that stands out from the rest of the pack in this album. The opening title track has a really good flow, almost telling a story without uttering a single word. Then we have "On Peregrine Wings", that is just a stunning track where Joe is showing off a bunch of different techniques and styles, but still manages to make the song sound like one whole piece. And that beautiful riff on the "chorus" is just magic. "A Phase I'm Going Through" shows just how good of a shredder Joe is, giving us the most technical riffs and solos he has done in years. Also listen to the beautiful "Lost In A Memory", the crystal clear "Cataclysmic", and the sweet cruising "If There Is No Heaven".

Yep, Joe Satriani has created another well constructed effort here in "Shockwave Supernova", a album with great variety and fantastic showmanship. But there is something with this humongous variety that bugs me, because I want to see Joe create a full album that focuses on one main style, instead of just showing his whole tool box album after album. We know you are a well rounded artist Joe, and that is fantastic, but now I want to see some concepts, a album filled with songs that steers in the same direction. Can you do that for me please? Of course you can, I believe in you, but it is ultimately up to you if you want to do it or not, and to be honest, I am fine with it either way, just do your thing and bring out some stunning music.

Songs worthy of recognition: On Peregrine Wings, Lost In A Memory, A Phase I'm Going Through

Rating: 7,5/10 Scarborough Stomps

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