Here at Don't Count On It Reviews, you can read reviews from different artists from different styles.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Adrian Weiss - Big Time (2011)

Band: Adrian Weiss
Country: Düsseldorf, Germany
Style: Progressive Rock/Fusion
Label: Hands of Blue/Guitar-9

When it comes to solo albums by guitarists, I think it agreeable that they fall into two categories, simplified, good and bad. I don't think being a good player should warrant a solo album, but that's what seems to be happening nowadays. I don't cover these sorts of albums a lot, I don't think ever really, and it's not a style I plan on covering all that often anyway, but this one stood out as being worth covering.
First off, I'll explain how I approach listening to solo albums by guitar players. Most of them are absolute rubbish, whether or not you agree, that's what I think. Very few players manage to include any sort of songwriting into their albums and instead focus solely on soloing and shredding till your ears fall off, boring. Players like Guthrie Govan within the last decade and older guys like Allan Holdsworth can pull off instrumental albums because they play well within the confines of a song and can also shred your face off when they feel like it as well. But both those guys come more or less from a background of jazz and fusion, and whatever else you think is in there as well, while a lot of newer guitar solo albums, that I know about mind you, come more from the metal genre. When it comes to Adrian Weiss, he falls somewhere in between the two styles, songwriting and shredding, as well as metal and fusion.
I do think Adrian is talented, obviously, as his solos on here are exhibit a lot of virtuosity and skill, but he can also work within a song's parameters of not being too self-indulgent. Tracks like Tough Luck and show that while there are solo galore throughout a song, it is still very confined to a very simple structure with a central chorus melody. Personally, I do feel that this album does suffer from what I feel plagues a lot of albums of this sort, lack of variety. I don't want to make this album sound like it's one dimensional, which I certainly do give Adrian props for because he does pull off some other ideas well on here, but in an album like this, you really have to make each song stand on it's own because a lot of these songs do end up sounding very similar to each other. I really enjoyed when Adrian went acoustic on songs like Desert Sanctuary or Disappear, because I felt that Bright Awakening was a bit more of a typical power-ballad for this sort of album and not a standout acoustic fusion song, and I wish he would've done that again or gone full-on acoustic and left out all electric guitars on that track, if only to make it stand apart even more from the rest of the other tracks on here. There are times on here where I feel like Adrian does go a bit off the deep-end and go too far into the needless shredding territory, Morning Run, but I'll allow him that since he does restrain himself for the most part throughout the album.
It's a decent slab of instrumental prog-metal/fusion that has some nice ideas in it, but I don't feel is totally on the ball with going full-bore into experimental territory. I would love to hear Adrian just make a full on acoustic song or just go totally fusion in the future, because he clearly shows the potential to do so on here. Check it out if you want to hear some solid instrumental prog/fusion.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Easy On The Ice, Desert Sanctuary, Disappear

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