Two words...very impressive. That's the best way I can describe the first ever solo album from Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci. For the record, this is a GUITAR album, not a Dream Theater prog-metal journey, nor a fusion oriented Liquid Tension Experiment. Suspended Animation is Petrucci showing his superhuman talents on the guitar, as well as displaying his penchant for crafting melodic and memorable instrumental songs. There's not a boring song on the CD, instead you get plenty of headbanging, plenty of shredding, plenty of catchy riffs and melodies, and plenty of variety. Metal, prog, arena rock, jazz-fusion, blues, it's all here, packed inside eight lengthy and instantly accessible tunes.
Petrucci wastes no time and bolts out of the gate with the crushing "Jaws of Life", a song that is part shred-monster and part rampaging metal, with the guitarist laying down plenty of stinging wah-wah drenched speed of light solos and melody lines, while his thick beefy riffs pound the listener into submission with mammoth waves of distortion. On the catchy "Glasgow Kiss", Petrucci puts forth his best "metal-fusion-jig" for some entertaining melodies that reminded me of Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs a bit (it also helps that Dregs bassist Dave LaRue is on board for the CD), and he gets Middle Eastern on the complex "Tunnel Vision", mixing heavy & intricate rhythms with wah-wah leads, crazy whammy bar excursions, and plenty of right hand tapping. "Wishful Thinking" is a laid back jazz/blues number that shows the mellower side of the guitarist, while the near 10-minute cruncher "Damage Control" is a hard rock anthem with crunchy riffs and expressive chords, not to mention wild solos. Fans of Joe Satriani will love the linear rock of "Curve", and the emotional "Lost Without Year" has plenty of blues muscle, but it's the closing 11-minute "Animate Inanimate" that will really send shivers down the spine. With rampaging licks and jaw dropping solos, this piece takes you on a complex prog-metal journey, and you can just imagine it being a Dream Theater song if they decided to add some keyboards to it. That being said, there's also a strong Led Zeppelin vibe to this track as well, and the drum work of Dave DiCenso is steller.
Not only guitar players but lovers of aggressive progressive rock and metal will really enjoy this CD. Suspended Animation shows that John Petrucci has what it takes to survive on his own outside of Dream Theater when and if that day comes.
1. Jaws of Life
2. Glasgow Kiss
3. Tunnel Vision
4. Wishful Thinking
5. Damage Control
7. Lost Without You