Tony MacAlpine Returns With Self Titled 13th Solo Album
Posted by Michael Mueller on June 24, 2011 at 4:21 PM
I was just a wee lad beginner guitarist when I first heard Tony MacAlpine, around 1985, and decided that I wanted to play like him. Well, that may not have happened, but I do still enjoy a rip-roarin' round of shred from time to time, and few guitarists pull it off with more grace and style than Mr. MacAlpine, which is why I was rather excited to see his new self-titled album arrive in the mail last week.
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Tony MacAlpine is the guitarist's 13th solo album (and 26th, overall) over the course of his 25-plus year career, and from the opening downtuned roar of "Serpens Cauda," it's apparent that MacAlpine has not been resting on his redlined riffs since his last solo record, nearly a decade ago.
One of the more interesting aspects of the record is how much it leans progressive. Few and far between are the basic rock beats and bass/rhythm guitar root chugs that too often dominate "shred guitar" albums. From opening rocker "Serpens Cauda" through "Ölüdeniz" and "Fire Mountain," evidence mounts that MacAlpine has been paying attention to progressive metal bands like Dream Theater, Nevermore, and Symphony X, which in turn makes for a richer, more complex listening experience. The fact that MacAlpine brought in drummers Virgil Donati and Marco Minnemann to play on various tracks certainly doesn't hurt that effort. Both are skin-beating beasts who not only match MacAlpine's intensity but also stretch boundaries.
At the same time, MacAlpine shows he can play equally well inside the box, borrowing from the Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani school of melodic mastery on "Dream Mechanism." But following that, perhaps the most mainstream-sounding track on the record, MacAlpine takes his cues from his fusion work and perhaps from his employer of late, Steve Vai, for some rather quirky and brilliant outside ventures on "10 Seconds to Mercury."
On "Flowers For Monday," MacAlpine explores his Classical roots, with a dirge-y bed of piano arpeggios topped by a sparse steel-string acoustic melody, whereas "Angel of Twilight" is a throwback to MacAlpine's uptempo mid-'80s material, as is "Pyrokinesis" (see video below) albeit with a bit of an early Oughties' "nu-metal" groove in the riff.
The album's standout track, though, is "Summer Palace," a highly syncopated, fusion-leaning piece with Donati on drums. The sparse arrangement puts you at the edge of your seat, as it invites anticipation and gives MacAlpine plenty of room to explore, both harmonically and rhythmically.
For more info or to order the album, visit TonyMacAlpine.com
Complete track list:
10 Seconds to Mercury
Flowers for Monday
Angel of Twilight
Salar De Uyuni