With an album title such as Alien Love Secrets, one would expect some strange things. I had no idea what to expect from this Steve Vai album, let alone the others. He’s known for using lots of sound effects to make his music more interesting, and boy does he do that here. Boy does he.
Right from the start, you kinda know what to expect. With the first song’s name as “Bad Horsie," you’d expect, at most, the lyrics to be about a horsie. But this is Steve Vai! He’s not ‘supposed’ to have any lyrics. So what does he do with a song he calls Bad Horsie? Guitar effects. From the first second of the album, he uses an effect, who-knows-what. And there’s a horsie whine in there every once in a while, too. And that’s the beauty of his music. No, not to make weird noises with his guitar to sound cool, he uses the weird noises to make it more interesting, to add that one thing that’ll get the song stuck in our head. “Oh, hey I know this song! It has a horsie in it!" And another ridiculous song is “Ya-Yo Gakk", which features his two year old son Julian on the vocals. He sounds like a freakin’ rock star! His singing is echoed by his father on the guitar, making it all the more interesting. The song is so fun to listen to, it’s ridiculous. The greatest part of the song is at the 1:45 mark, and yes it’s so special that I have to mention the exact minute: second. They both go like “wlehhhhh" at the same time, and even though it is certainly very strange, I adore that moment.
The second song, “Juice," is also very enjoyable. It is very upbeat, with that jazzy drumming to brush it off. Nearly the entire song is a solo, and it’s nearly 4 minutes long. The guitars back up/ lead the jazzy drumming beautifully, and the pace is very quick. At some points, it may seem like random shredding, but other parts are worked out beautifully. There’s even a bass, possibly double-bass, just for the heck of it. At the end, some idiot shouts “Shut up, we know you can play! Jesus..." Just goes to show you how good he is. Even though it’s obviously planned out.
Track three, “Die to Live," is the one song that is, I guess I can say normal. Minimal guitar effects used, and an instrumental that is a really long guitar solo. The level of difficulty is much lower than that of the previous song, so it’s more relaxing to listen to because the pace isn’t as fast. Normal. Normal Steve Vai song = good. Not great, not bad, good. But worst song on the album.
The sixth track, “Kill The Guy With The Ball/The God Eaters" is what attracted my attention the most. No, it wasn’t the beginning of the song, where someone (Vai, I assume) is using a talk box. It’s the riff right after that, the very thrash/heavy metal riff that is played. Octave chords that somehow still remind me of a Sum 41 song also remind me of a Metallica song. No, it’s not Battery. The same aggressive, heavy metally mood is kept and the chords and bass line are thrown around throughout most of the song, and there are some spots where it seems like it will stop, that all the crazy, stupidly fast soloing will stop. But it doesn’t until there are about a minute and forty-five seconds left. Everything just stops; piano effects are used to create that mysterious and heavenly feeling and mood, and the guitar solo slows down immensely and creates a beautiful atmosphere. It’s safe to say the first minute-and-fifteen seconds are the “Kill the Guy with the Ball" part and this part is the “The God Eaters" part.
The tracks I left out, number four, “The Boy From Seattle", and seven, “Tender Surrender", are two ballads. This is strange, since Vai usually only puts one breathtaking ballad on an album, number seven, but this one has two. I say “The Boy From Seattle" is one because there is a very sweet (by sweet I don’t mean crazy shredding) opening riff, and the rest of the song is very easy to listen to. The guitars are, for the most part, very creatively strummed and the chords are very nice on the ears. But the better of the two is the latter, Tender Surrender. It is easily one of the most breathtaking songs I have ever heard. I love almost all Steve Vai ballads and number sevens, but this one may, just may, be my favorite. The guitar plays a very sweet, touching part throughout the whole song. It’s got a very basic guitar part, with a simple enough song-long-solo (even though I wouldn’t call the whole thing easy), but Vai uses the tempo in his favor, slowing down just as the song is about to flow to the next part. The drums have a few nice fills here and there, and that’s really saying something since the drummer is just there, not a permanent part of the band. The song is a must-listen.
Overall, this was a very interesting album for Steve Vai. Some tracks (Bad Horsie, Ya-Yo Gakk) are really out there in terms of the guitar effects and other...effects, while another is “normal" (Die to Live). Still another is in the metal genre (Kill the Guy with the Ball/The God Eaters) while the other two are great ballads (The Boy from Seattle, Tender Surrender). It just goes to show you how versatile and creative this man is. There’s something for everyone on the CD.
The Boy From Seattle
The One Song You Must Hear Besides Tender Surrender:
Overall Album Rating: