Joe Satriani’s New Album Is Among The Top New Rock Records Release So Far This Year

Courtesy: earMusic

Early this year, veteran virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani started building the hype for his latest album, The Elephants of Mars. As time passed, Satriani released three singles from the record, and then this week, a fourth, the record’s title track. All four songs are excellent representations of the new record, and just a sampling of how much this record has to offer. The 14-song record offers a wide range of sounds and musical styles from beginning to end. Case in point is the late entry, ‘Dance of the Spores,’ which will be discussed shortly. ‘Blue Foot Groovy,’ which comes early in the album’s one hour, four minute run time, is another way in which the noted variety is exhibited. It will be examined a little later. ‘Sailing The Seas of Ganymede’ is yet another example of the diversity in the record’s arrangements and will also be examined later. When it and the other songs noted here are considered alongside the album’s singles and the rest of the record’s works, the whole makes The Elephants of Mars easily one of the best of this year’s new rock albums so far.

Joe Satriani’s brand new album, The Elephants of Mars, is another clear example of why he is one of the most respected and revered figures in the rock community today. From the album’s opening to its end, Satriani and his fellow musicians paint one rich sonic canvas after another. the four singles that the record has already produced already do well to make that clear. They are just a sample of what makes the record so strong. As noted, the rest of the record is loaded with engaging and entertaining content, too, not the least of which is ‘Dance of the Spores.’ This six minute-plus composition is a truly unique work. The use of the electronics and subtle keyboards alongside the rich guitar and less is more approach from the drums makes the song everything that audiences have come to expect from Satriani and company while also boasting its own identity. The quirky carnival style sounds that make up the song’s mid-section, what with the choral backing, adds even more to the musical picture here. One can almost see the tiny spores of various plants “dancing” in the air, the wind currents blowing them in various directions and ways. The energy that builds up until the song’s end paints a picture of them being blown all around. The whole of the song proves itself a fully engaging and entertaining work and just one more of the songs that makes the album so enjoyable.

‘Blue Foot Groovy’ is another example of the diversity exhibited in the record’s arrangements. Coming early in the album’s run, it clocks in at five minutes, 10 seconds. The opening bars throw back to the R&B sounds of the 1960s before Satch’s familiar guitar work kicks in with the layering. What is interesting is how the guitar lines were in fact layered. The verses show at least three layers, each complimenting one another so well. The choruses, meanwhile, display more of a pop sensibility. From there, it gradually builds into a more rock-oriented sound, the transition made so smoothly along the way. The whole makes the song yet another wonderful, fully immersive presentation that paints its own picture. It certainly is not the last of the record’s standout entries. ‘Sailing The Seas of Ganymede’ is yet another notable entry in the record.

‘Sailing The Seas of Ganymede,’ which comes in at just under six minutes, stands out because it is just unlike the other songs examined here as they are from it and from the rest of the album’s entries. The song is a bass-driven composition in reality. Satriani just adds to the unique sense that the bass line establishes alongside the drums. The addition of the electronics and keyboards adds to the song’s sci-fi sense and in turn makes the song even more unique from its counterparts. The string arrangements that enter into the mix as the song progresses adds even more to the engagement and entertainment. Not having liner notes for this record, it is difficult to know the inspiration for any of the record’s songs, but regardless, the song still ensures audiences will develop their own pictures from this composition, too. To that end, it is yet another solid example of how much the album in whole gets right. When it is considered alongside the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes The Elephants of Mars another successful offering from Joe Satriani.

The Elephants of Mars is a successful new offering from veteran guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani. Its success was already clearly shown, leading up to its release Friday, through each of its singles. Those songs are just part of what makes the record enjoyable. The album is loaded with diverse sounds and styles, as has been evidenced here. When the songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole makes The Elephants of Mars, one more of the year’s top new rock albums so far.

The Elephants of Mars is available now through earMusic. More information on the album is available along with all of Joe Satriani’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.satriani.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/joesatriani

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/chickenfootjoe

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Joe Satriani Gets Funky In His Latest Single

Courtesy: earMusic

Joe Satriani premiered the latest single from his forthcoming album this weekend.

Satriani debuted his new single, ‘Pumpin’‘ Friday. The song is the third single from his forthcoming album, The Elephants of Mars, which is scheduled for release April 8 through a partnership between Satriani’s own new independent label and earMusic. Pre-orders are open. The album has also produced the singles, ‘Faceless‘ and ‘Sahara.’

‘Pumpin” is as unlike the album’s existing singles as they are from one another and from ‘Pumpin”. This single takes Satriani in a funky direction. The use of the keyboard line alongside Satriani’s performance on the guitar gives the song something of a disco approach and a touch of funk, taking listeners back to the 70s. The work on the drums adds even more to that sense of vintage funk. It is a song that will engage and entertain audiences just as much as the album’s other singles.

The track listing for The Elephants of Mars is noted below.

THE ELEPHANTS OF MARS Track Listing
1.         Sahara                                                  8. E 104th St NYC
2.         The Elephants of Mars                          9. Pumpin’
3.         Faceless                                              10. Dance of the Spores
4.         Blue Foot Groovy                                 11. Night Scene
5.         Tension and Release                           12. Through a Mother’s Day Darkly
6.         Sailing the Seas of Ganymede            13. 22 Memory Lane
7.         Doors of Perception                             14. Desolation

The Elephants of Mars will be Satriani’s 19th album and will come less than two years after the release of his most recent album, Shapeshifting, which was released April 10, 2020 through Sony Music.

Joe Satriani released the third issue of his limited edition graphic novel, Crystal Planet in August. The graphic novel series is based on his 1998 album by the same name.

More information on Joe Satriani’s new album is available along with his latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.satriani.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/joesatriani

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/chickenfootjoe

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Joe Satriani Debuts “Visualizer” For New Single, ‘Faceless’

Courtesy: earMusic

Famed guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani unveiled the visualizer for his new single this week.

Satriani debuted the video for his new single, ‘Faceless’ Friday. ‘Faceless’ is the second single from Satriani’s forthcoming album, The Elephants of Mars, which is scheduled for release April 8 through a partnership between Satriani’s own new independent label and earMusic. Pre-orders are open. Satriani premiered the album’s lead single, ‘Sahara‘ last month.

‘Faceless’ is vastly different from ‘Sahara.’ Where ‘Sahara’ boasts an infectious groove along the lines of works from his 2004 album, Is There Love In Space?, ‘Faceless’ is more reserved and subtle. The controlled use of the piano line, bass, and drums alongside Satriani’s performance on guitar proves that less really is more.

The track listing for The Elephants of Mars is noted below.

THE ELEPHANTS OF MARS Track Listing
1.         Sahara                                                  8. E 104th St NYC
2.         The Elephants of Mars                          9. Pumpin’
3.         Faceless                                              10. Dance of the Spores
4.         Blue Foot Groovy                                 11. Night Scene
5.         Tension and Release                           12. Through a Mother’s Day Darkly
6.         Sailing the Seas of Ganymede            13. 22 Memory Lane
7.         Doors of Perception                             14. Desolation

Joe Satriani released the third issue of his limited edition graphic novel, Crystal Planet in August. The graphic novel series is based on his 1998 album by the same name. The Elephants of Mars will be Satriani’s 19th album and will come less than two years after the release of his most recent album, Shapeshifting, which was released April 10, 2020 through Sony Music.

More information on Joe Satriani’s new album is available along with his latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.satriani.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/joesatriani

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/chickenfootjoe

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Joe Satriani Announces New Album Release Date

Courtesy: earMusic

Joe Satriani is scheduled to release his new album this year.

The famed guitarist is scheduled to release his new album, The Elephants of Mars April 8 through a partnership between Satriani’s own new independent label and earMusic. Pre-orders are open.

Said Satriani of the album’s creative process, “We did everything. We tried the craziest ideas. And we entertained every notion we had about turning something backwards, upside down, seeing what could happen.”

The track listing for The Elephants of Mars is noted below.

THE ELEPHANTS OF MARS Track Listing
1.         Sahara                                                  8. E 104th St NYC
2.         The Elephants of Mars                          9. Pumpin’
3.         Faceless                                              10. Dance of the Spores
4.         Blue Foot Groovy                                 11. Night Scene
5.         Tension and Release                           12. Through a Mother’s Day Darkly
6.         Sailing the Seas of Ganymede            13. 22 Memory Lane
7.         Doors of Perception                             14. Desolation

Joe Satriani released the third issue of his limited edition graphic novel, Crystal Planet in August. The graphic novel series is based on his 1998 album by the same name. The Elephants of Mars will be Satriani’s 19th album and will come less than two years after the release of his most recent album, Shapeshifting, which was released April 10, 2020 through Sony Music.

More information on Joe Satriani’s new album is available along with his latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.satriani.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/joesatriani

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/chickenfootjoe

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Quantum Leap’ Is A Largely Successful New Offering From Gus G.

Courtesy: AFM Records

Firewind founder and guitarist Gus G. is quoted from a recent interview as saying of his new album, Quantum Leap, that he “didn’t make it with the intention of it being the next one in the cycle of solo albums.  It was more of a case of, ‘What else is there?’ I needed the creative outlet.”  One of so many albums created during the downtime forced on acts by the COVID-19 pandemic, audiences will be glad that he crafted the album regardless.  That is due in large part to its general presentation, which will be discussed shortly.  While the album’s general presentation makes the record a strong new offering, the recording is not perfect.  The production in the live content detracts from the presentation to a point.  This will be discussed a little later.  Speaking of production, the production of the album’s first half offsets the impact of the production in the album’s second half and makes the album that much more enjoyable.  The end result of this is that the album in whole proves to be one more of the year’s top new rock and hard rock/metal albums.

Gus G.’s new solo album, Quantum Leap is a mostly successful new presentation from the veteran guitarist.  That is due in large part to its general presentation.  The general presentation finds the 18-song record divided into two separate discs.  The first disc is composed of 11 original new songs that the guitarist (formally known as Konstantinos Karamitroudis) crafted during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The second disc is composed of seven live tracks, at least two of which are covers (one a Thin Lizzy cover, the other a Dire Straits work).  The live songs were all from a concert that Karamitroudis held in 2018 in Budapest.  Two of the songs – ‘Fearless’ and ‘Cold Sweat’ – were featured in his 2019 digital-only EP, Live in Budapest.  The other five songs are other performances featured in the concert, but just not in the EP.  Ironically, the other two songs from the EP are not featured among the live songs in this bonus live material.  Sure, it would have been nice for audiences to have had those songs, for a total count of nine live performances, but at least audiences get seven.  To that end, audiences cannot complain too much.

Getting back to the topic of the main record, the material that makes up its body is both new and archived material that Karamitroudis had stored away unfinished from however long ago.  Karamitroudis composed and recorded most of the instrumentation in this record, save for the drums.  He was joined by drummer Vincent Velasco for the recording.  Velasco’s work is solid throughout and offers just the right musical “spice,” too.  Just as interesting is that Karamitroudis was quoted during an interview promoting the album, that he had to step back from his typical approach (IE lots of extensive guitar solos and work, really in-depth arrangements).  Instead, he allowed himself to write and create more freely.  The result is wonderful.  There are songs that fit just as well here on any Firewind album (E.g. ‘Demon Stomp,’ and ‘Enigma of Life’) as would fit on one of Joe Satriani’s albums.  The more Satriani work comes in the form of the album’s opener, ‘Leap Into The Unknown’ and ‘Not Forgotten.’  There is even some hint of influence from fellow guitar virtuoso Marty Friedman peppered in through songs, such as ‘Force Majure’ and ‘Exosphere.’  As if all of that is not enough, the sort of “new agey” approach and sound of ‘Night Driver’ with its keyboards, is a throwback to that familiar hair metal sound of the 80s.  It will appeal to specific audiences in its own right.  Simply put, the works crafted for the album’s main body are diverse and unique from one another throughout its run.  The wide appeal that it will certainly generate couples with the appeal from the record’s companion live material to make for even more engagement and entertainment.  In other words, audiences get the best of both worlds here in the best way possible.  They get a new, impressive studio recording, and a healthy compliment of live material in lien of a live performance, since the COVID-19 pandemic put Karamitroudis’ live plans on hold.  Keeping all of this in mind, the album’s general presentation creates a strong, solid foundation for the record.  Of course while the album’s general presentation is undeniably important to its appeal, the album is not perfect.  There is a slight issue raised as a result of the live material’s production.


The production is slightly problematic because of the lack of balance in the instrumentation and vocals.  The vocals in the live show were performed by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Unisonic).  Maybe it is just this critic’s own hearing, but it seems throughout the songs with vocals, Ward’s performance is washed out by Gus G.’s work and that of drummer Johan Nunez (Firewind, ex-Kamelot).  Ward’s vocals sound so distant, as if his mic was not turned on.  Whether that was accidental is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, it forces audiences to turn up the volume and listen closely to be able to hear Ward.  This is disappointing, but is not enough of a dent to make the live material a failure.  That is because not every song has vocals.  To that end, the album’s live material still helps play into the album’s success, despite the one noted concern.

Considering that the production in the album’s live material is not enough to doom the record, there is at least one more item to note here to the record’s positive.  That item is the production of the album’s primary content.  As noted already, Karamitroudis admitted in an interview promoting his new album, that he had to take a new, unfamiliar approach to composing and performing in Quantum Leap.  That approach included not only taking different approaches in the songs, but also making sure that each part works well with each other.  That is because so much is still going on in each song.  Ward, who also mixed and mastered the album, deserves his own share of applause.  He clearly paid painstaking attention to each instrument’s place within each arrangement.  He made sure that every part complimented the others and balanced each song in whole.  That work and that of Karamistroudis came together and made the album in whole just as successful for its aesthetics as for its content.  When this and the album’s content are considered together, the whole makes Quantum Leap another impressive offering from Gus G. that is among the best of not only the year’s new rock albums, but hard rock and metal albums, too.

Gus G.’s recently released album, Quantum Leap is an impressive presentation that will appeal equally to his fans, those of Firewind, and rock and hard rock fans alike.  The record’s success is due in large part to its general presentation.  The general presentation gives audiences the best of both worlds with a new studio album and live recording in one.  The studio recording gives audiences a new studio presentation while the new live recording gives audiences a nice concert experience in lieu of a live, in-person show from Gus G. as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The general presentation gives the record a strong start, but the production in the live recording detracts from the presentation to a point.  The production proves problematic because there is an obvious problem with the balance between the instrumentation and vocals in the tracks that feature vocals.  Thankfully it is not enough to make the record in whole a failure or even the record’s live half.  The production of the record’s primary body makes up for the concerns raised through the production of the live content.  It ensures every instrument balances expertly with one another.  The result is that the studio content is fully engaging and entertaining from start to end.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s overall presentation.  All things considered, the album proves a mostly successful presentation.

Quantum Leap is available now through AFM Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Gus G.’s latest news at:

Website: https://gusgofficial.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialgusg

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gusgofficial

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

John 5 Announces New Album Details; Premieres Album’s Lead Single, Companion Video

Courtesy: Cosa Nostra PR

John 5 will release his latest album this fall.

The guitarist (a.k.a. John Lowery) is scheduled to release his new album, Sinner, Oct. 29. Pre-orders are open.

In anticipation of the album’s release, Lowery premiered the album’s lead single, ‘Que Pasa,’ and its companion video Friday. The song features a guest appearance by Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine. It features a musical arrangement that is easily comparable to works from fellow guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani.

The video for ‘Que Pasa’ features Lowery and his fellow musicians on stage in order to give audiences a look at what a live John 5 show looks like. Mustaine shows up on video singing the song’s only lyrics, “Que pasa, people/Que pasa.” Yes, it is that simple.

Lowery spoke highly of Mustaine during a recent interview.

“I have such an appreciation for Dave, and I love his voice, guitar playing and songwriting. And he kills it on ‘Que Pasa,'” he said. “It was such a joy to have him on this track.”

Lowery also discussed new album.

“When people hear this record, I want them to say, ‘Oh, that’s John 5,’” he said. “What you get with Sinner is the best of me. I just want to write memorable riffs that people will enjoy. When I sit on my couch and play my guitar, I play the same things you hear on the instrumental records. It’s honest. It’s real. It’s not a façade. This is how I play. This is what I love to do.”

The track listing for Sinner is noted below.

JOHN 5 | SINNER

Tracklisting

01. Welcome To The Island

02. For I Have Sinned

03. Euphoria (feat. Carla Harvey)

04. Que Pasa (feat. Dave Mustaine)

05. How High The Moon

06. Creepshow

07. Land Of The Misfit Toys

08. Crazy Little Thing Called Love

09. This Is How I Do It

10. Georgia On My Mind (feat. Peter Criss)

More information on John 5’s new album, single, and video is available along with all of his latest news at:

Website: https://www.john-5.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/John5official

Twitter: https://twitter.com/john5guitarist

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Third Issue Of Joe Satriani’s ‘Crystal Planet’ Comic Book Coming

Courtesy: Heavy Metal Magazine/Incendium

The third issue of Joe Satriani’s Crystal Planet comic book series will release this fall.

According to information in a news release distributed Tuesday, the series’ third issue is scheduled to release in November through Heavy Metal magazine and Incendium’s Opus imprint. Pre-orders are open. A limited quantity of issues #1 and #2 is also available. Additionally, a very limited quantity of bundles — 250 total — featuring copies of issue #1 signed by Joe Satriani, sublimated hat, an art print of issue #2’s cover and an enamel pin is available here.

Along with the new issue of Crystal Planet, an accompanying action figure of Joe Satriani is also available to pre-order for $29.95. The action figure features Satriani in a Tri-Diver suit from the Crystal Planet comic book, complete with his signature Ibanez guitar.

The credits for Crystal Planet are noted below.

CREDITS:
CREATED BY: Joe Satriani, Ned Evett
SCRIPT: Tony Lee
PENCILS/INKS: Richard Friend
COLOR: Carlos Cabrera
LETTERS: Jacob Bascle
EDITOR: Llexi Leon

More information on Crystal Planet is available online now along with all of Satriani’s tour dates in support of Shapeshifting is available online now at:

Websitehttps://www.satriani.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/joesatriani

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/chickenfootjoe

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Derek Sherinian Joins Up-And-Coming Guitarist Ballard For New Single

Courtesy: Ballard

Guitarist Paolo Ballardini (a.k.a. Ballard) debuted his latest single this week.

Ballardini debuted his new single ‘Too Soon‘ Friday. The full-on instrumental track features a guest appearance by keyboard wizard Derek Sherinian (Sons of Apollo, Platypus, ex-Dream Theater). The song’s energetic arrangement puts Ballardini’s talents on display, and at the same time is comparable to works from Joe Satriani.

The premiere of ‘Too Soon’ comes more than three months after Ballardini premiered his then latest single, ‘Changes’ and its video. That song also displays some Satriani influence. At the same time, it also features some notable influence from Satriani’s fellow famed guitarist, Marty Friedman.

Sherinian’s participation in Ballardini’s new single comes as he continues work on his next album, which will follow up his latest album, The Phoenix.

The Phoenix produced the singles, ‘Empyrean Sky,’ ‘Dragonfly,’ and ‘Them Changes‘ (a cover of the Buddy Miles classic).

Sherinian followed up the release of The Phoenix with a guest appearance on Michael Schenker Group’s latest album, Immortal, which was released early this year. Now the band’s namesake, Michael Schenker will make his own appearance on Sherinian’s as-yet-untitled new album.

More information on Ballardini’s new single is available along with all of his latest news at:

Website: https://www.ballardmusic.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ballardmusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/music_ballard

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Details Announced For Second Issue of Joe Satriani’s Limited ‘Crystal Planet’ Comic Book Event Series

Courtesy: Incendium/Heavy Metal

Joe Satriani’s limited event comic book will see its second issue released next month.

Satriani launched the limited series, which is based on his album, Crystal Planet, in March. The second of the series’ five issues is scheduled to ship next month. An exact shipping date is under consideration.

The series’ presentation coms courtesy of Heavy Metal Magazine and Incendiary. Co-created by Satriani and Ned Evett, the new title is centered on lead character Satchel Walker.

Walker is caught between two factions vying for resources from a dying star. It is up to him to end the conflict and bring peace to the universe and time stream. The only way he can achieve the noted goals is through the use of music. Pre-orders for the second issue are open now.

Issue #2 picks up where Issue #1 left off. Walker has experienced a death in his family, and takes his first steps on the Crystal Planet. His lifelong friend Sarah Fortune joins him on his voyage in a banged-up old station wagon as the swarm is hot on the duo’s heels.

Satriani had the following to say of the second issue of the Crystal Planet comic book.

“Satchel Walker’s world is about to be turned upside-down in ways he could never have imagined, he said. “Issue #2 will bring his futuristic, battle-torn nightmares closer to reality and re-unite him with his father’s strange and powerful guitar.” 

The credits for the comic book are noted below.

CREDITS:
CREATED BY: Joe Satriani, Ned Evett
SCRIPT: Tony Lee
PENCILS/INKS: Richard Friend
COLOR: Carlos Cabrera
LETTERS: Jacob Bascle
EDITOR: Llexi Leon

Satriani’s new comic book will also feature a companion collectible figure of Satriani himself as an added bonus. The action figure features Satriani in a Tri-Driver suit from the comic book, along with his signature Ibanez guitar. The figure will retail for MSRP of $29.95. Pre-orders for the action figure are open.

More information on Crystal Planet is available online now along with all of Satriani’s tour dates in support of Shapeshifting is available online now at:

Websitehttps://www.satriani.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/joesatriani

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/chickenfootjoe

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

LTE’s Latest LP Is The Latest Contender For The Top Spot Among 2021’s Best New Rock Albums

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

More than two decades after the release of its then most recent album, prog rock super group Liquid Tension Experiment officially returned Friday.  The band – Mike Portnoy (drums), Jordan Rudess (keyboards), John Petrucci  (guitar) Tony Levin (bass) – released its new aptly titled album Liquid Tension Experiment 3 Friday through InsideOut Music.  The eight-song instrumental album spawned three singles ahead of its release.  Those songs are but a glimpse into the album, too.  The 61-minute presentation offers hints of the band’s existing catalog and something in another direction throughout, too.  ‘Beating The Odds is just one of the songs featured in the recording that shows a new creative direction from the band in its latest outing.  It will be discussed shortly.  The band’s updated take on famed composer George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is another change in direction for the band in this outing.  It will be discussed a little later.  Showing even more, the change in direction in this record is ‘Chris and Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey,’ which comes just past the record’s midpoint.  It will also be discussed later.  Each note song proves the album’s growth, and in turn, engagement and entertainment.  When they are considered along with songs, such as ‘Shades of Hope,’ ‘Hypersonic,’ ‘The Passage of Time,’ and the album’s two remaining songs, the whole makes the album in whole a work that is a welcome return for Liquid Tension Experiment and that is among the best of this year’s new rock albums.

Liquid Tension Experiment’s latest album, Liquid Tension Experiment 3, is a presentation that will appeal to the band’s established audience base.  In the same note it will appeal to fans of the band’s members and their primary projects just as much.  That is due in large part to the songs featured in this recording.  The songs in question show evidence of songs from the band’s existing catalog as well as works that show some growth from the band.  One of the most notable of the songs that exhibits that growth comes in the form of ‘Beating The Odds.’  The six-minute-plus composition is not the wildly energetic style composition that audiences have come to know from the band.  Rather, it combines a variety of tones and influences, beginning with a very Rush style guitar intro to open the song.  From there, listeners can hear distinct influence from Dream Theater’s early days prior to Portnoy’s departure from the band.  At the same time, there is also a hint of Spock’s Beard influence through the combination of Rudess’ work on keyboards and Petrucci’s guitar performance.  At times the influences remain separate, and at others join together for one unique whole.  Through it all, the balance in the influences is handled expertly, a tribute to the record’s production.  The end result of that controlled chaos is a work that brings out the best of the bands that have influenced this band’s members in one complete work that boasts its own standout identity as a prog-rock opus.

‘Beating The Odds’ is just one of the songs that serves to exhibit the growth from Liquid Tension Experiment in its latest album.  The band’s updated take on George Gershwin’s timeless jazz classic, ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is another clear example of the successful change in the band’s new album.  It is a complete change of pace for the band, taking on a jazz classic instead of any rock composition.  Gershwin’s original composition is present here.  There is no denial of that fact.  At the same, the song gets a nice change of pace in this rendition.  Petrucci’s subtle guitar opening mimics the piano line that opens the original so well.  The addition of the synthesized string arrangement at points throughout is a nice tribute to the original in its own right.  It actually does well to sound like the real thing, even being synthesized.  What’s more, the Joe Satriani-style approach that Petrucci takes along with his own style as the song progresses adds even more to the approach.  Much the same can be said of Rudess’ keyboard performance throughout, and that of Portnoy.  The whole of the group’s work here is such a rich presentation.  It is a dramatic change of pace for the band this time out and such a successful risk.  It is just one more example of what makes the album so successful.  ‘Chris and Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey’ — which comes in the record’s second half — is yet another example of the album’s strength.

‘Chris and Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey’ is notable because it is so starkly unlike anything that these musicians have ever crafted collectively and with their primary acts.  The whole thing starts off with Levin using what sounds like a bow on his bass, as if it was a standup bass.  Portnoy’s accents on the toms sound random, but are in fact complimentary to Levin’s work.  The subtle addition of the occasional keyboard effect makes for its own unique touch here.  The whole experimental work immediately comes across as a distinctly avant-garde type composition, yet is still so engaging because of that experimental, free form type composition.  It is another wonderful example of how much the band has branched out this time out and how that willingness to try something new has paid off.  When it is considered with the other two songs examined here and the more familiar sound exhibited through other songs featured here, such as ‘Shades of Hope,’ ‘Hypersonic,’ ‘The Passage of Time,’ and the album’s two remaining songs,  the whole of all of that content makes the album in whole a welcome return for Liquid Tension Experiment and an equally impressive new addition to this year’s list of top new rock records.

Liquid Tension Experiment’s first new album in more than two decades and first since the release of Spontaneous Combustion – released in 2007 (almost 15 years ago) by three quarters of LTE under the moniker of Liquid Tension Trio – is an impressive new offering from these  musical mates.  It proves that from start to finish with a solid combination of familiar content and plenty of material that takes chances and takes the band in new directions.  Those newer songs are all examined here.  When they are considered with the rest of the album’s works, the whole makes LTE 3 a work that every prog-rock fan will welcome.  It is proof positive that good things really do come to those who wait.  LTE 3 is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/ltexperiment.  

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