Review Summary: Rock-along uptempo elevator music for the 21st century that's ultimately just another Satch boogie.
Hearing the name Joe Satriani conjures up one of a few images:
- A man known primarily for the prodigies he's helped spawn. Kirk Hammett, Alex Skolnick, Larry LaLonde, and, of course, Steve Vai. He must be a good instructor!
The G3 Guy
- Helping pave the way for the annual technical rock/jam ceremony with Vai and a different guest each year, G3 has cemented Satriani as a master of improvisation and technicality. It's on this stage where he shines.
The Coolest Cancer Patient You've Ever Met
- I mean, just look
at those sunglasses!
Rarely, however, does it conjure up the image of "the great composer." Yes, songs like "Surfing with the Alien" and "Satch Boogie" are some of the most complex your fingers have ever touched on a Guitar Hero game, but frantic pacing has always been a double-edged sword for Professor Satchafunkilus. Maybe that's why he was so quick to throw in his lot with the mostly disappointing star-alignment of Chickenfoot. And maybe that's why Unstoppable Momentum
sounds the way it does.
I don't know what Satch thinks the world's going to expect from the title, but when I think "unstoppable momentum," I think of an album that's fast, blistering, and technical - especially coming from "the G3 guy," the personality everyone expects to hear from on a Satriani album. On the contrary, this is an album that goes against that grain. It's one that, while very obviously filled with the spirit and style of Satch, takes a tempo cue from 2004's Is There Love in Space"
, slowing down and trying to find a musical voice before speeding up and down the fretboard.
You see, Unstoppable Momentum
very much wants to be an album of "the great composer." From the first notes of the title track, there's a distinct attempt to establish an atmosphere to the album amid all of the speedy-yet-slower-than-normal guitar solos, though said atmosphere gets somewhat muddled and inconsistent between tracks. It paces itself well, it frames the guitar solos well, it segues between tracks with a notable degree of dignity. Hell, the bass work on the album even pops and adds groove to some of the album's chunkier tracks. Yet, for all its stabs at greatness, the sentiment that it's "another Satriani album" just can't be avoided, leaving the compositional attempt as little more than a footnote to an album that manages to fit the label everyone assigned it from the get-go.
When it comes down to it, Unstoppable Momentum
is an album that's just another Satch hallmark attempting to balance technical proficiency with structure and flow. Unsurprisingly, it inevitably ends up somewhere in the between: rock-along elevator music for the 21st century that can kick on a few extra neurons, but which never really captivates the listener's attention. If Satch follows this musical path a little further and teeters just a bit further either to the left of experimentation or the right of structure, his next release may be another breakthrough. But as Unstoppable Momentum
sits, it's just another Satch boogie.