Review Summary: Vinnie Moore takes you on a journey of melodic instrumental passion
Vinnie Moore emerged onto the shredding scene of the mid 80's along with the famed Yngwie Malmsteen and Tony Macalpine with his debut solo album "Mind's Eye" which is one of the most influential "shred" albums to come out of that era, even being ranked number three in Guitar One Magazine's "Top 10 Shred Albums of All Time". Even with his second album "Time Odyssey" he was still very popular at the time.
Now to be honest I have only heard a select number of songs from "Mind's Eye" and "Time Odyssey" but they were memorable tracks to say the least. Vinnie's third album "Meltdown" was an almost odd change in style it seemed. Bursting out in the 90's, the soloist guitar-shredder icon was out of fashion, if it ever was, and "Meltdown" was a little out of time. The title track was an aggressive, almost showboat-y, shred piece that was actually one of his better songs. The problem I saw with the album is that it just kinda went downhill from the title track, which was the first song on the album.
Move forward a couple more years (and another album) and we have "The Maze". Now I haven't heard the album "Out of Nowhere" but it if it was a tween from "Meltdown" to "The Maze" I wouldn't be surprised (and probably wasn't that great if it was a tween). "The Maze" is more dynamic than "Meltdown" was and sounded more developed. Most songs have a distinct sound to them, despite a couple being less memorable than others.
I'm going to run a little track-by-track overview here:
The Maze - Title track that starts with a repetitious riffing that is cycled through half of the song but still manages to stay relatively melodic and catchy. The bridge is when it just goes crazy. He breaks out into some shred-heavy riffing, then a soft prequel to his next passage which is a funk-like groove and then into his signature riffing to finish. A little too long for my taste (8 minutes) but you would expect to find this kind of dynamism in a band like BTBAM or something . 4/5
King of Kings - A little softer and more reserved than the last track. A typical Vinnie Moore track. Has a more positive feel than some of his songs. Not alot to say about this otherwise. 3/5
Cryptic Dreams - This song is another example of how Vinnie manages to push his style out of the stereotypical box that is built around him. Synth heavy and very soft, yet still melodic and containing Vinnie's signature riffing. Changes up a little at the bridge for an extra dynamic but still a little reserved for Vinnie. 3.5/5
Never Been to Barcelona - Vinnie breaks away from the typical lead guitar + synth and rythm and goes into some acoustic work reminiscent of a Spanish contemporary. Very catchy and melodic with brilliant riffs and harmonies. Quite different from your typical shredder's acoustic ballad. Very lively and energetic. 4.5/5
Watching from the Light - Almost a counterpoint to my idea of the last song. This song is soft and melodic and almost ballad-like with the major-key riffing and somber passages, very little synth, clean rhythm tracks, use of a wah-wah pedal. Good song, riffs border on being repetitious though. 3.5/5
The Thinking Machine - Opens similarly to The Maze but brings out some more melodic riffing earlier into the song. Typical song composure makes a little bland. Good mid-paced song though. The bridge starts quietly and uses the diminished scale for some eerie melodies. Synths are more prominent in this song than others. The last half the song is the better half definitely. 3.5/5
Eye of the Beholder - A relatively well worked song contained a well paced rhythm, strong riffs through the whole song and well used synths. Most of the riffs in this song are very catchy and can hold your attention. At the bridge it changes up and brings out some great solo's reminiscent of "Meltdown" and some duel-style ties between the keyboard and guitar solo's. Dynamic song and dies down just before it gets boring. 4.5/5
Rain - One of the most "moody" songs I've heard from Vinnie. Slow paced and somber rhythm complements Vinnie's great control over his guitar. Every vibrato, harmonic, and note sounds as if his soul is holding it with a grip of will. Melodies are very catchy and well done. Changes the pace several times for an added dynamic quality. Definitely one of Vinnie's best songs. 5/5
In the Healing Garden - Another "diamond in the rough" you could say. Good mid-to-fast paced song with an anxious feeling to it. Riffs are well composed, much better than a majority of the songs in this album. The "chorus" is a brilliant little arpeggio based riff, sounding if it was based upon some lovely classical guitar piece. The bridge falls into some somber licks briefly, but rebounding into another well paced passage. Great song 5/5
Fear and Trepidation - Being the final song on the album, it has a grave feeling to it. Mid-paced and light on the synths, it contains some strong harmonies on the guitar and some almost point-counterpoint licks between the lead and rhythm. The tone of the song leaves you in a suspended state. The riffs are still pretty well done and the song contains a few well placed synth leads. Overall a good way to end a good album 4.5/5
Most of the album is strung together quite well and each song feels like it fits in between the song before and after it. This would be a 5 if the first half of the album fit together as well as the second half though. Still, it is a very dynamic album and is only brought down by a couple cases of repetitious riffing
Being an aspiring "shredder" myself I look at this kind of work as an example of how you can take shred and work it into well composed songs and passages
-Never Been to Barcelona
-Eye of the Beholder
-In the Healing Garden
/First review (crits/comments welcome)