A protégé of fellow guitarists Joey Tafolla (Jag Panzer), John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Andy Timmons (Danger Danger), Spaniard Tony Hernando has melded his traditional, progressive and hair metal influences into The Shades of Truth, his second instrumental album. But this is a more complete record than many albums released by guitar virtuosos, as Hernando isn't afraid to experiment with different styles or let other instruments -- expertly played by bassist Pepe Bao and drummer Mike Terrana (Axel Rudi Pell) -- do the talking.
Opener "At the Crossroads" is a melodic chunk of molten metal that sets the standard for the 10 other tracks on The Shades of Truth. "Uncommon Vision" boasts a funky intro, while "Outsiders" features majestic machine-gun drumming. The slow blues of "Slow Blues" reveals another side of Hernando, whose clean and inspired playing and production nevertheless occasionally risk sounding a bit antiseptic. The guitarist would have been better served going for a rawer edge on some of these tracks.
While Hernando handles most of the guitars, keyboards and percussion here, guest musicians include keyboard player Vitalij Kuprij (Artension) on "Outsiders," and Timmons plays on "The Edge" and "Eleven 30," two of the album’s heavier tracks. The Shades of Truth closes with a short and moody yet elegant piece called "Still Believe." It’s a fitting end to an album that (despite its pristine sound) will take listeners through a variety of emotions, layers and -- if you will -- shades.