Virtuoso metal guitarist Marty Friedman has built a career of churning out some of the most intense riffs that the metal community has ever heard. Some of the most intense of those riffs came during his time with veteran metal band Megadeth alongside fellow legend Dave Mustaine. For all of the impressive riffs that Friedman crafted during his time with Megadeth, he has shown to be just as talented on his own as he was during his time with that group of musicians. He has released a handful of albums in recent years. Each album has shown a different side to Friedman as an artist, the most recent of which being 2012’s Loudspeaker. Now two years removed from that album, Friedman has released his latest full length effort in the form of the aptly titled Inferno. Pardon the pun, but the title is fitting for this album because Friedman is most definitely *ahem* “on fire” throughout the course of the album’s dozen tracks. One of the most intriguing tracks on this album is his punk/hard rock hybrid ‘I Can’t Relax (ft. Danko Jones). This is one of those songs that shows that while Friedman is known largely for speed and thrash metal riffs, he is just as talented in other realms of rock, too. On a completely opposite branch, ‘Meat Hook (ft. Jorgen Munkeby)’ is a completely out of this world metal-meets-avant-garde jazz piece that is sure to catch any listener’s ear. Of course for all of the intensity and growth that Friedman exhibits through the course of this album, he also shows some emotional depth in the progressive rock ballad of sorts that is ‘Undertow (ft. Gregg Bissonette and Tony Franklin).’ These songs are but mere samplings of what makes Inferno such an outstanding opus from Marty Friedman. There are nine other tracks from which listeners can choose their favorite(s). Regardless of which song(s) listeners choose as their favorite(s), every listener will agree that all twelve of the songs that make up Inferno make up an album that is more than deserving of a spot on any critic’s year-end list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.
Marty Friedman shows off his metal chops throughout the majority of his new album in a variety of ways as listeners will note in listening throughout the album’s dozen total tracks. For all of the metal chops that he continues to show on this album, he also displays a certain amount of growth, too. Case in point is the punk/hard rock hybrid that is ‘I Can’t Relax (ft. Danko Jones).’ Friedman shows in this song that while it’s been a while since he was part of a band with a vocalist, he is still okay with sharing the limelight with others. Jones, who has earned his own level of fame throughout his career perfectly mirrors Friedman’s own frenetic energy as he sings, “I’m always busy/Let’s get ready/Burn it down to the ground/I hate when someone tells me to stop moving and sit down…You’re gonna see my face everywhere/It’s gonna drive you crazy/I want to time and time again/I can’t relax/I can’t relax/You gotta know/I can’t relax/You’ve got to know.” Jones’ rapid fire delivery alongside the musicianship of Friedman and his fellow musicians will instantly have audiences dancing and singing along happily. It’s not the only song that will either, as is evidenced in the metal-meets-avant-garde jazz piece that is ‘Meat Hook (ft. Jorgen Munkeby).
‘Meat Hook (Ft Jorgen Munkeby) is another prime example in this record of just how much Friedman has grown as an artist. The song shows influences from the likes of Liquid Tension Experiment, Trioscapes, Faith No More, and certain other bands. Simply put, it is mind boggling, but in the best possible way. The use of the sax line against Friedman’s guitar playing makes for a contradiction that can only be best understood when heard by one’s own ears. There are no words to properly describe the sound or the effect. Add in the wild piano runs and audiences get a piece that completely defies any musical logic whatsoever. Yet it still manages to impress in its own right and make Inferno even more enjoyable for listeners.
For all of the wild energy exuded by Marty Friedman, his guest musicians, and his band mates throughout the course of this album, Friedman shows a softer side too. That softer side is presented in the progressive rock ballad ‘Undertow.’ This piece shows something of an influence from the likes of Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment just to name a couple of bands. After the nonstop adrenaline rush on which Friedman sends his listeners throughout the course of the album’s previous song, this song is a welcome chance for listeners to catch their collective breath. The addition of Tony Franklin and famed session drummer Gregg Bissonette adds even more depth to the song. It takes listeners back to the days of big hair and even bigger rock. Listeners can just close their eyes and take it in, seeing in their minds, a giant arena with Friedman there center stage, lasers shooting out from the stage in time with his guitar playing. It’s one more impressive piece that stands out as one of this album’s highest of highs. Of course that it just the opinion of this critic. There are still nine other tracks on this record from which listeners can choose their own favorite(s). Regardless of which song(s) listeners choose, one thing can be agreed and that is that whether it be the songs noted here or those chosen as favorites by others, every track on this record proves just why Inferno deserves a spot on every rock critic’s year-end list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.
Inferno is currently available in stores and online. Audiences can check it out now while they await Friedman’s next scheduled live performance Thursday, September 25th at the Iridium in New York. Audiences can keep up with all of the latest tour updates and news from Marty Friedman online now at http://www.facebook.com/martyfriedman.official and http://www.martyfriedman.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.