Review Summary: Paul Gilbert and company return after letargic sleep after their awesome album "Second heat"... But are they up to date with the times? Gilbert lost his abilities in the way? And what the hell... who hasn't watched the ten-thousand versions of the title s
Musical profficiency and masturbatory technical style is not for everyone. For guitarists, it's frustrating and enraging, and usually leads to the classic "screw that, his *insert guitar characteristic* sucks arse". For average joes, it's dull and boring, and completely incomprehensible.
Heavy Metal, on the other hand, is a genre that's all about the catchy riffs (usually highly technical) and even catchier choruses, but I really relate it to lyrics about the ladies, the drinking and the suffering. Then you have Paul Gilbert. Paul Gilbert can be put in the "guitar virtuosos" shelf but really, you have to go deep inside this man's head to actually understand what's going on. He has been playing guitar since the age of 5, and he plays a variety of styles ranging from pop to jazz... yabadda yabadda. But disregarding completely his musical skills, he's truly a funny man, of course if he's being honest in his website. He pretty much built it and contains a bunch of elements that are nerdish but certainly fun. He's in love with Japan (in fact he's married to a Japanese fine lady) and is just silly as hell, and strangely he likes to dress up like an astronaut and make videos... and take pictures and stuff. Oh yeah, did I mention some people believe he's Buckethead"
He's been in different projects through his career, but the one that I have heard about most (thanks to ten thousand videos in the youtube community) has been Racer X. Taken from a character of a japanese cartoon, the band is formed by Paul Gilbert on guitars, of course; Juan Alderete, the current bassist from The Mars Volta playing... (you can figure that out yourselves); Scott Travis playing the drums (he's been involved in Judas Priest) and Jeff Martin (probably the guy in the band that I have least information about...) in the vocal department.
My approach to Racer X in the beginning was "OK tojes, you need to learn a highly technical guitar song to impress the ladies". A friend of mine sent me the song "scarified", featured in their 1988 album "Second Heat". As stated before, that was very masturbatory but it had this "I don't know what" within, that made me like it a lot. Further looking, I browsed for a while albums by this band, and found pretty much nothing. Lately, I got my hands around "Technical Difficulties" a song I had heard a lot about but I never really listened to it, for some odd reason. And now it's here, and here's my thoughts about it. As a random fact, this album was released after the band broke-up back in the late 80's and returned around 2000, thanks to a mutual friend that got them together. Despite being a quite random fact, this is decisive for further reference.
Musically it's impossible to complain. Other than the bass is a little too low for my taste, all the elements come together amazingly. The second track of the album, Fire Of Rock
, is a great example of this: A very catchy riff; infectious, up-tempo drums, and vocals that seem a little bit lost in time (considering the date this album was released. anyway), but that fit the music greatly: A great track to sum up the rest of the album. There are no moments to rest, really. Aside from Waiting
, the slowest track of the album, the music is always up-beat. The talent of Gilbert in undeniable: Amazing technique, a lot of theoretical knowledge and precise application of it, and of course arse-kicking songwriting. The epytome of this album, Technical Difficulties
is probably considered by fans of shredding the most awsome track by Racer X, period. If you dissect it, it's just a riff in different keys and pitches, and a very repetitive one, but there's something about the way everything blends in together to create an awesome track; The break after the main riff is also greatly composed and just enhances the experience of the song. It's a very complete song, and enjoyable for any kind of listener.
The album isn't really a lyrical achievement, to be quite honest. The songs are average Heavy-Metal lyrics, but they are not half bad for the purpose they were created, anyway: Fun songs about heart breaks and probably dominatrix sluts (see: Miss Mistreater
for further reference), but written in a very simple manner, quite enjoyable and nothing too shabby for the purpose it serves. Aside from The executioner's song
which I find to be the best song in the album, I wouldn't really tatoo any of the lyrics in my arms just for the sakes of, but whatever.
The whole album runs through the same line really, except for the instrumentals: Phallic Tracktor
, for instance, is just a thrashy-riff, that is good to start the album, and directs into Fire Of Rock
, track that I have mentioned eariler. The song of course has nothing to do with stars and satellites and the space: It's actually about the fire, but OF ROCK AND ROLL! Of course it was impossible to leave this kind of track out. Snakebite
isn't as fast and furious but continue the great vibe created so far: This song was dedicated to the guy that brought them together once again. I'm almost certain this is about... mind diseases" Or things that worry you greatly from within. This could be as well in a way what they felt for not being signed for so much time and making them mad with eachother... I don't know. Interpretations.
is all about the ladies. The girls with puppy eyes that just pull you inside and then leave you with a big gripe of their love and makes you wonder... "Oh man, I hate that bitch. But I loved her so badly..." It's a fun song, actually. I like it quite a lot, because it's fun, it's catchy and just makes up for the lack of... literary boundary expansion, to put it in a way. Bolt in my heart
is all about the racing days, also a fun track to listen to, but I don't really enjoy it a lot. 17th moon
Picks up the vibe I like a little bit, but Waiting
, the ballad of the album just kills me. It's cheesy, and the essence of the band is just not like this. It'd have been a commercial hit back in the 80's, but considering the time it was released, there's nothing really to it. One thing worth remarking is the fact that the bass is actually audible in this track. B.R.O.
IS a classical piece, "Prelude in D minor" from "Nine Little Preludes" by J.S. Bach, but I can't judge how much it resembles to it, since I haven't listened to the prelude itself, but it's an interesting track. To finish the album greatly, the cover Children Of The Grave
, by Black Sabbath can be found sa the last track. It's greatly executed, that's impossible to deny, but the overall feeling of it was to up-beat (as the rest of their music) for me to really adore this song. And Jeff's voice is too high-pitched. But a nice effort.
The album overall is a great listen, packed with energy and as I stated before, musical profficiency and masturbatory technical skills. But that's not demeaning at all: It's enjoyable, and a great return from the band. What can be wrong about it"
Well, the thing is, it sounds outdated comparing the time it was released. The band was left in the train of the 80's and the album sounds
80's. That isn't necessarily bad, but when you think about it: was it made on purpose, or are they really stuck in the 80's train and can't get out of it" Is this a heavy metal album, plain and simple, or just the fading memory of better times for everyone" Difficult question to answer, but the answer lies within the listener, to be quite honest. You either like how it sounds old-school in retrospective, or if you're just a progessist, unstoppable who likes music to be adecquate with the times, then you might not enjoy this thoroughly.
For the most, I give this the excellent rating, period. This album was certainly surpassed by "Superheroes", the following album, and "Second Heat" was released in the right time, the right place. It lacked the edge, but is a great listen every once in a while. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do currently.
- tojeam reeviw crü