Allan Holdsworth
Metal Fatigue


4.5
superb

Review

by Mike C USER (16 Reviews)
October 10th, 2012 | 28 replies | 3,311 views


Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A six-string spectacular. An album which influence knows no bounds. Prepare to be dazzled by the most futuristic guitar playing this side of the universe!

6 of 6 thought this review was well written

Allan Holdsworth – Metal Fatigue

In one million years from now, it would not surprise me in the slightest if Allan Holdsworth were regarded as the single best guitar player to ever walk the earth. The legendary jazz/fusion axe-slinger has seamlessly avoided mainstream recognition for the entirety of his career, which has spanned forty-three years, thirteen studio and three live albums. Despite his underwhelming popularity among the masses, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single guitarist or guitar enthusiast who’s unfamiliar with Holdsworth and his work. The late, great Frank Zappa even stated at one point that Holdsworth was “The greatest guitarist in the world.” Metal Fatigue is the man’s shining moment as an artist, an album that not only showcases his raw technical ability and domination over his instrument but also proves that he is far more than capable of composing a catchy tune.

The first couple notes of the distorted, gain-driven harmonic guitar tone of the opening track “Metal Fatigue,” sets a blistering pace that holds up for the entirety of the album. Holdsworth plucks pinch harmonics and throws in acrobatic, effortless lead lines, as the main riff opens up into a bed of luscious, obtuse chord voicings. The clean sections that make up a large majority of the record are more akin to a delay infused keyboard than that of a guitar. The spacey chord progressions and movements usually make way to sporadic, profound and oftentimes challenging lead lines. Holdsworth is never hesitant to unleash a fury of notes and the albums most jaw-dropping moments come at the most clever and unpredictable of times.

The records middle track, “Devil Take The Hindmost,” could very well be one of Holdsworth’s greatest moments. The five and a half minute instrumental takes the listener through a series of catchy and complicated chord progressions that set up for a brain-melting guitar solo. I can think of no better showcase of Holdsworth’s technical prowess on his instrument than the clinic he puts on beginning at the tracks one-and-a-half minute mark. Whammy-bar dives pave way into blazing, break-neck legato, a Holdsworth signature technique. At times during this excursion the guitar work is so ludicrous, profound and impressive that one might begin to question if it’s a guitar at all, I sure did.

Largely understated is Holdsworth’s rhythmic ability. The multi-layered guitars hold down complex rhythmic patterns that hardly, if ever hold true to jazz standards. By deconstructing the guitar work in the album you might start to wonder where his inspiration came from, that is a question answerable by only Holdsworth himself, as he seems to be plucking these ideas from the very outskirts of the universe. Prepare to hear chords you’ve never heard before used in ways that you’ve probably never imagined.

It’d be a shame if I failed to mention the fabulous band backing up Holdsworth for this musical outing. Drummer, Chad Wackerman and bassist, Jimmy Johnson nail to pin-point precision the futuristic song structures and hold down the rhythm section wonderfully. Wackerman pulls off the complex grooves with relative ease, adding fills and nary repeating percussive patterns. Johnson puts on a memorable performance on every track, especially during the outro of “Panic Station,” where he shows impressive command and melodic execution during the albums lone bass solo. Metal Fatigue also features a vocalist, something rather experimental for Holdsworth as a majority of his recordings are solely instrumental affairs. The vox, performed by Paul Williams is featured on half the albums tracks and is subject to scrutiny. The singing is more than competent and very fitting for the style of music but I can’t help but feel that some of the vocals lines are quite cheesy. “In The Mystery” is especially cringe worthy, “I am the one who lives in your dreams, at nighttime I’m out reliving me. No earthly restrictions to hide what I see, ‘cause I live out in this mystery," per example.

While the vocals are certainly a hindrance at points, they do little to damage the overall feel and concept of the record. Holdsworth is on his game here, and Metal Fatigue is a more focused, original and downright fun collection of songs than any of his prior or post studio offerings. Although relatively unknown to the masses, Holdsworth’s influence stretches far and beyond that of just jazz/fusion guitar playing. Metal Fatigue is an amazingly focused, original and imaginative release from one of the world’s wildest guitar wizards, one that is criminally overlooked and by all means essential listening.



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user ratings (49)
Chart.
4.3
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Comments:Add a Comment 
MikeC26
October 10th 2012



3173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This album deserved a review. Holdsworth is a man of men.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 10th 2012



15907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice 1, holdsworth is awesome, hated that fking synthaxe thing tho, pos'd nice review

Digging: Nemrud - Journey of the Shaman

MikeC26
October 10th 2012



3173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Same. There's an interview somewhere where he talks about his distaste for the natural tones of an electric guitar. Kinda
odd seeing as freaking good he is.

OmairSh
October 10th 2012



10868 Comments


Holdsworth is definitely an acquired taste, a friend of mine had an album of his and I didn't really enjoy it due to his excessive technical excursions. But this makes me want to try and listen to him again, he's been a seminal influence for sure, a lot of major guitarists hold him in the highest regard. Surprised about the vocals. Good review man.

Digging: Paco de Lucia - El Duende Flamenco

MikeC26
October 10th 2012



3173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, a lot of his work is definitely pretty wank-heavy, this not so much.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 10th 2012



15907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

first thing i ever heard of his was Atavachron i think and it wasnt particularly easy to get into on a first listen lol

OmairSh
October 10th 2012



10868 Comments


I think a lot of good music isn't easy to get into on the first listen, like a lot of prog stuff for me, but then it starts to grow on ya.

MikeC26
October 11th 2012



3173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yep, that's usually the way she goes. i've found that release's that aren't as immediate have a lot longer staying power as well.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 11th 2012



15907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

mikec26 u left some feedback on my caress of steel review, can you give me some more info on there, just tell me what you thought was wrong with it, neg feedback is cool just need to know why so i can improve ;]

MikeC26
October 11th 2012



3173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

oh, i didn't neg it man! i thought your review was great.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 11th 2012



15907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ye i know u didnt neg but u said 'tits review' lol, was np but just wanted a bit more feedback

undertakerpt
October 12th 2012



1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review! Been meaning to check this guy out for a while now so I guess I'll start with this me hearty!

sora236
March 4th 2013



156 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think he's stated that he doesn't like the natural electric guitar tone because he's always wanted to play the sax and I guess the synthaxe allows a much more smooth tone and preforming glissandos on it are a bit closer to that of a sax in comparison to a standard guitar.

MikeC26
March 4th 2013



3173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

That explains his odd-ball approach to the instrument!

OmairSh
April 27th 2013



10868 Comments


The smooth lead tone gets irritating in the long run

oltnabrick
April 27th 2013



30636 Comments


yah better go jam some porcupine tree XD

Digging: Young Thug - I Came From Nothing 2

OmairSh
April 27th 2013



10868 Comments


-_- Are we really doing this?

oltnabrick
April 27th 2013



30636 Comments


im jamming in absentia right now



qucik come prog with me!!

OmairSh
April 27th 2013



10868 Comments


Nah I prefer GZA thanks

MikeC26
April 27th 2013



3173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah rules

Devil take the hindmost is top 10 guitar songs ever for me



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