Marty Friedman
Inferno


3.5
great

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
May 28th, 2014 | 28 replies


Release Date: 05/27/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A versatile and varied modern metal forray from one of the genre's icons.

What ever happened to Marty Friedman leaving metal behind him? Wasn't there a time following Risk where Dave Mustaine said, "Hey, we need to get back to basics and make something heavy," and Marty's only reply was "Nah, I'd rather go make pop music in Japan?"

In the years that have followed, metal has more than caught up with one of the genre's quietest forerunners. For those who haven't kept up with his work since the Megadeth split, Friedman has spent considerable time working and touring with Japanese pop acts (including notable soda-financed act FANTA) and doing shots of a weird green drink with fellow big name rock and metal guitarists on his Japanese TV rock show, Rock Fujiyama. Yet, somehow, the oddball pop mentality of Japan never really seeped into Friedman's original solo works.

Instead, 2003's Music for Speeding offered a hard rock approach to Friedman's instrumental shred only to be outdone by the slightly heavier and more modern Loudspeaker in 2006. 2010's Bad DNA only continued the trend and, unsurprisingly, Inferno carries the torch in the same direction. Friedman, it would seem, has kept current on what's big in metal and has tuned down and hooked up the Axe-FX for this one, delivering as many crunchy, rhythmic body blows as he does dizzying solos that carry his signature swagger.

But in a big, big way, Inferno is less about Marty Friedman and more about whichever artist happens to be featured on a given track. Sure, there's an obvious Friedman-era Megadeth tone to many of the tracks (see the intro to "Steroidhead"), but many of the tracks here give the spotlight to supporting vocalists and instrumentalists. For example, the in-your-face meathead brutality of "Sociopaths" is entirely dependent on both David Davidson's vocal delivery and Marty Friedman's ability to pace the solos and let the vocals and rhythms do their work. It's a give and take, and Marty should be praised for knowing and doing what it takes to make the song work.

Still, as effective as Marty's ability to compose to his x factor is, it can come across as a bit bizarre. Case in point, album standout "Lycanthrope," despite being excellent through and through, simply feels like a Children of Bodom track that happened to land on Inferno. It's not the mere vocal addition of Alexi Laiho, either; the entire arrangement feels like it's just set to produce a high caliber item from Bodom's catalog. The only thing missing is Toki Warman. In my humble opinion, it's the album's best track, but its stylistic similarities make it feel a little dirty - as though Marty's somehow cheated a bit to achieve such success.

Aside from versatility lending itself to creating doppleganger tracks, it also manages to develop a huge variety in the songs presented. "Undertow" plays up the light, classical aspect of Friedman's virtuosic playing that's most similar to the material on Introduction and Scenes while "Horrors" does much the same to fuse neo-classical elements with his time in Cacophony (which should come as no surprise considering it was co-composed with Jason Becker). Meanwhile, "Wicked Panacea" may prove to be the album's most unique, mashing Friedman's distorted rhythms with Rodrigo y Gabriela's fast and flowing acoustic prowess to impressive effect.

At the end of the day, Inferno is a great new trick from an old dog with a lot of skill. It's as heavy enough to warrant the Prosthetic imprint, yet varied enough to provide something for all of Friedman's fans, new and old. It's technical enough to attract the gearheads and the solo nuts, but restrained enough to churn out some songs which are memorable for more than just a "he can do that" moment. There are still some odd missteps here and there (I'm sure "Meat Hook" takes talent to play, but it sounds like something I wrote the first week I had access to Guitar Pro) and, as tantalizing as the smorgasbord of variations can be, it makes for an inconsistent listen from track one on through to the end. Still, when treated less as a cover to cover work and more of a bits and pieces affair, Inferno finds itself a contender in the modern metal marketplace that's worth a listen.

Top Tracks:
"Lycanthrope" (feat. Alexi Laiho and Danko Jones)
"Sociopaths" (feat. David Davidson)
"Wicked Panacea" (feat. Rodrigo y Gabriela)
"Steroidhead" (feat. Keshav Dhar)



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user ratings (31)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2014


2007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I just want Marty to do an album with Alexi Laiho and Danko Jones now.

Digging: Thank You Scientist - Maps of Non-Existent Places

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2014


6296 Comments


^that would be pretty sweet.



Digging: maudlin of the Well - Leaving Your Body Map

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2014


6208 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

Good review Thompson, mindpos.

I remember enjoying Music For Speeding back in the day.

Digging: Seduced (AT) - The Proclamation

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2014


2007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, man! I used to love cruising to Music for Speeding - it just felt fitting. Especially "Cheer Girl Rampage" haha.

LaughingSkull
May 28th 2014


221 Comments


Sociopath slays for days, especially the ending solo.

Willie
Moderator
May 28th 2014


16051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

You don't like 'Meathook'? That's one of my favorite tracks on here.

bloc
May 28th 2014


34927 Comments


Looking forward to hearing this

tempest--
May 29th 2014


13944 Comments


gotta check Friedman is the best ever

tempest--
May 29th 2014


13944 Comments


great review too, would pos it so hard if i could

Eons
May 29th 2014


482 Comments


way up on the mountain where she DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED.

SitarHero
May 29th 2014


4700 Comments


I heard Steroidhead some months back, but I remember feeling distinctly underwhelmed by it. Maybe I need to revisit.

BlackLlama
May 29th 2014


1691 Comments


Hmm gonna have to check this. Nice review!

Digging: Pitch Black Forecast - As the World Burns

demigod!
May 29th 2014


44727 Comments


damn didn't see this coming

good review

gonna have to check. Marty is the man.

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

InbredJed
May 29th 2014


6076 Comments


Danko Jones?!

oh I gots tah hear this!

InbredJed
May 29th 2014


6076 Comments


DBL PST M

CaptainDooRight
May 29th 2014


29968 Comments


I forgot this nigga released something.

Digging: Fleurety - Min Tid Skal Komme

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2014


2007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You don't like 'Meathook'? That's one of my favorite tracks on here.

It's not terrible, but it feels like it's trying really hard to make something avant garde and proggy without ever getting its feet off the ground in a discernible direction. I can see how it's worth appreciation, though, even if it seems scatterbrained and formless to me.

A7XEric
May 29th 2014


310 Comments


This album was so close to being great. All it needed to do was get rid of the vocals and make the songs more cohesive (as in parts that repeat and less bad transitions from section to section)

But the part in Horrors at 1:55 (that is obviously written by Becker) practically makes this whole album. Holy fuck.

Willie
Moderator
May 29th 2014


16051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It's not terrible, but it feels like it's trying really hard to make something avant garde and proggy without ever getting its feet off the ground in a discernible direction. I can see how it's worth appreciation, though, even if it seems scatterbrained and formless to me.
I think he was trying to make something avant-garde and proggy, but accessible too. I don't think it was supposed to have direction. Mr. Bungle tracks often don't seem to have a direction either ;)

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2014


2007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nah, I totally agree, Trey. Just not my thing on this one, I guess.



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