Steve Vai. A former student of guitar legend Joe Satriani, Mister Vai has earned a reputation of being an incredible guitarist. Being influenced by guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa as he grew up, including being invited to join Zappa’s band during his stay at Berklee School of Music, his main focus was the guitar.
Sex and Religion, written with the band “Vai”, has Steve Vai on guitar, Devin Townsend on vocals and Terry Bonzo on drums. This was the only album written by this group, and unfortunately it isn’t hard to see why. For a Steve Vai album, it is very focused on the vocals and lyrics. With lyrics such as “Are you ready for the here and now, so tell me are you ready"
”, or “I’d crawl through broken glass to you, but it wouldn’t pay
”, and maybe “We touch, and the softest kiss explodes with lust, yeah
”, the theme is pretty obvious. And perhaps the topic is overused. Relationships, relationships, oh how they hurt my heart. I want you but I can’t have you. I’d do anything for you, and I have, but you’re too good for me. But I just had to find you, and we touched and kissed. It was so magical, it will live on in my heart forever; I will never forget it. I will never forget you. It’s so cliché it hurts. However, the one song with such a topic with lyrics I don’t mind is in “Still my Bleeding Heart,” with I’ll die like a soldier in your arms, and I will be brave so you can be strong. And then he looked into his lover’s eyes and he cried.
” But, not all the lyrics are about relationships. Songs like “Pig” has outrageous lyrics such as “Here little piggy go, pig! Live in muck, I love my pig!
”. Another song with such lyrics is the title track, Sex Religion, which takes a shot at God and questions his existence. Some more ridiculous lyrics are “ Must you make a decision, between sex and religion. Why can’t you love God in your bed"
However, the main focus of a Vai album should be the guitar work, and it is still fair on this album even though it is very reliant on the vocals. The guitars take a backseat to the vocals during the verses, but they still have chances to shine in the intros and bridges, etc. Songs like “Here and Now” have very basic and boring verses, but have very fast solos although they just sound like random shredding. Songs like “In My Dreams With You” have boring verses and hardly a solo to hear and is carried by the singing. Songs such as “Still My Bleeding Heart” has an attractive intro and a relatively boring solo. From a guitar standpoint, the album needs more songs like “Survive” and “Deep Down Into the Pain”, which contain a strong intro and solo.
But what is a Steve Vai album without a breathtaking seventh song. Number Seven on the album is “Touching Tongues”, and although the title may turn you off, like it did to me, it is actually very interesting in a good way. The beginning of the song seems very cheesy with the gong, and it really sounds like a soppy and disgusting love song. And maybe it is. But I don’t care. Guitar effects such as an octave pedal are used often, and the background guitar is very effective. It makes the song much more beautiful and adds an emotion to it. This is easily the best guitar song on the album, and the best song overall. Interestingly enough, there are hardly any vocals. The song blends in towards the end with the second guitar and it really makes for a listen.
Overall, the sound of the album is not to my liking. Mix the cheesy, cliché, lovey-dovey lyrics with the upbeat and poppy guitar work, you get a boring, annoying love song. There may be some times in the album that wake you up, like the very beginning of “Survive,” where there is a ridiculous shriek, completely out of place and hardly amusing, or perhaps in the beginning of “Deep Down Into the Pain,” which has some woman screaming for quite a while in the intro, but overall, much of the CD is weak. It seems like the album was perhaps a bit rushed because the guitars overall weren’t very creative and there are many times where I felt the riffs and solos were random shredding. Not much thought was put in the music or the vocals, as mentioned above. Hopefully I would find another Vai album to love. This surely isn’t it.
Deep Down Into Pain
Overall Album Rating: