Prog-metal band Dream Theater’s members are some of the hardest working musicians in the music community today. Front man James LaBrie has kept himself busy in the past with his Mullmuzzler project. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess has released any number of solo albums throughout his professional career. Bassist John Myung has recorded with the likes of Platypus, Gordian Knot, and Explorer’s Club. Even famed former Dream Theater drummer and founder Mike Portnoy has kept himself constantly busy during and after his extensive tenure with the band, recording and performing with Winery Dogs, Yellow Matter Custard, Transatlantic, and countless other projects. Fellow former members Derek Sherinian and Kevin Shirley also have kept themselves constantly busy. This weekend, longtime guitarist John Petrucci, who has kept himself busy in his own right, released his latest solo recording in the form of Terminal Velocity. The nine-song instrumental record is a positive new offering from Petrucci whose last solo record Suspended Animation was released 15 years ago. Its success comes from the fact that just as with that record, it shows the depth and breadth of his talents. ‘Happy Song,’ the album’s third track is one of the songs that serves to support the noted statements. It will be discussed shortly. ‘Out of the Blue,’ which comes a little later in the record’s 55-minute run time does the same in its own fashion. It will be addressed a little later. Much the same can be said of ‘Snake in My Boot,’ the album’s penultimate track, as the other two songs noted here and many of the album’s other songs. When those songs and the compositions addressed here are considered together, they make Terminal Velocity a welcome solo return for John Petrucci that is certain to find wide appeal.
John Petrucci’s sophomore solo album Terminal Velocity is a presentation from the famed guitarist that proves it was well worth the wait. That is proven from the start to end of the nearly hour-long instrumental presentation. One of the songs featured in this record that serves well to support the noted statements comes early in its run in the form of ‘Happy Song.’ ‘Happy Song’ is one of the most mainstream accessible works that Petrucci has ever crafted in his extensive career. The six-minute opus opens with a driving, upbeat composition that is reminiscent of his work as a member of Liquid Tension Experiment, but then quickly shifts gears, transitioning into a more poppy punk rock vibe in its lead verse section. The riff there is the kind of style that one would expect more from Sum 41, Blink-182 and other similar bands. From there, the arrangement just as quickly shifts to a more ballad type work that is still catchy in its own right. One could even argue that there is a touch of 80s hair metal infused into the sound in the chorus sections. What is interesting about the whole of the song is that as much as these two stylistic approaches are unalike one another, they still blend so well here. That is a testament to Petrucci’s talents as a musician and producer. By the time the song ends, audiences will feel wholly fulfilled even despite the song’s length. That in itself says a lot about the song and about Petrucci. That he can take two sounds that are so starkly unalike one another and manage to make them work so solidly in one work and do so for six minutes is worthy of applause. It definitely lives up to its title, as it will make any listener happy. To that end it is just one of the ways in which this album proves so impressive. ‘Out of the Blue’ is another of the album’s strong points.
‘Out Of The Blue’ is a well-placed addition to Terminal Velocity. It breaks up the high energy exhibited in the rest of the album’s songs. It starts off with a nice bluesy approach akin to something one might expect from Joe Satriani, but then eases its way into an equally introspective work that is more along the lines of something that fits into Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity. Again, here is quite an interesting juxtaposition of styles, yet even with such a notable difference in sounds, the two styles manage to work so well alongside one another. The end result is a work that is so unlike anything else featured on Terminal Velocity and that because of that difference shows even more why this album is well worth hearing. It is just one more of the album’s most notable works. ‘Snake in My Boot’ is yet another interesting addition to the album.
‘Snake in My Boot’ is distinct from so much of the material on Terminal Velocity just as much as ‘Out Of The Blue’ and ‘Happy Song.’ This time out, Petrucci offers audiences a song that is more deeply rooted in the hair metal of the 80s than anything progressive. The opening bars, with their foot stomping, clapping and infectious guitar riff immediately conjure the noted thoughts. That whole creates a fun vibe for listeners that will keep audiences fully engaged and entertained right to the song’s end. The steady, solid time keeping, with its nonstop eighth note patterns and occasional flare from the cymbals enriches the song even more, as does the companion bass line. The whole of all those elements paints so many pictures. It goes without saying that this composition is one that will become a live favorite for audiences. In fact, listening to the claps and foot stomping, one can immediately see an audience doing just that in person while Petrucci plays his riffs for the masses. Keeping that in mind, that ability to pain such a rich musical picture and the ability to get stuck so easily in listeners’ minds while standing on its own merits makes clear why it is another important addition to Petrucci’s new album. When it is considered along with the other songs addressed here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the album becomes a work that though 15 years in the making, was well worth the wait.
More than 15 years passed between the release of John Petrucci’s new solo album Terminal Velocity Friday and its predecessor Suspended Animation. Considering how busy Petrucci had kept himself in that time in his work with his band mates in Dream Theater, it comes as no surprise that so much time had passed. Even with so much time having passed, this record shows that Petrucci had not lost his creative side by any means. All three of the songs addressed here clearly support the noted statement. Each song proves that Petrucci is more than just a talented prog-metal guitarist. Rather, it shows the true depth and breadth of his talent. From 80s hair metal to the blues to even pop punk and things in-between, the album shows Petrucci has quite the talent. All things considered, this album shows once more why John Petrucci remains one of the elite guitarists in the music community in whole and why the this album was worth the wait. It is available now. More information on Terminal Velocity is available along with all of John Petrucci’s latest news at:
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