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MacAlpine, Tony: Tony MacAlpine

It has been ten years since Tony MacAlpine's last studio album, Chromaticity, came out. After that album, he toured extensively, mostly with Steve Vai, and was busy with both Planet X and a bunch of other stuff. Now with his self-titled solo album, he returns to exploring the perfect combination of instrumental virtuosity with cerebral compositions while utilizing his eight-string guitar work to diversify his craft.

Starting with the heavy "Serpens Cauda," the album is filled with corrosive riffing placed on top of fluid synth lines (also played by MacAlpine) climaxing with blistering solos and thunderous drumming. Not all of the album is heavy and shred-intensive, though. On "Oludeniz," (which is a wonderful holiday town in southwestern Turkey) he marries his classical leaning with thunderous bass lines and immediate standout melodies. Songs like "Dream Mechanism" and "Ten Seconds to Mercury" harken back to the more fusion-laden compositions on Chromaticity with added experimentation, especially during the middle part of the latter. "Flowers for Monday" involves acoustic guitars played in sync with a slow piano motif while the intro of "Summer Palace" is so groovy during its intro it feels like it was attached to the rest of the song as an afterthought. Also present are the more modern-sounding pieces like "Angel of Twilight," complete with processed guitar sounds and industrial-tinged synths.

The result is a varied album with some really strong material and some less than stellar tracks. Still, this album is well worth your attention, and a solo album in the true sense. MacAlpine plays all the instruments from seven- and eight-string guitars to keyboards to bass (and he also programmed the drums). The lineup behind him is equally impressive. Drum gods Virgil Donati and Marco Minnemann share the duties adding groove and rhythm when necessary.

(If you enjoy this, you must hear Brett Garsed's new disc, Dark Matter, as well. It is so far the best instrumental album of the year for me.)

Track Listing

  1. Serpens Cauda
  2. Oludeniz
  3. Fire Mountain
  4. Dream Mechanism
  5. Ten Seconds to Mercury
  6. Flowers for Monday
  7. Angel of Twilight
  8. Pyrokinesis
  9. Blue Maserati
  10. Summer Palace
  11. Salar de Uyuni
  12. The Dedication

Added: August 16th 2011
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Tony MacAlpine website
Hits: 2469
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

MacAlpine, Tony: Tony MacAlpine
Posted by Butch Jones, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-08-16 12:31:44
My Score:

It is hard to believe that guitar wizard, Tony MacAlpine, has had a 25 year career! It seems like only yesterday that I was first reading about him in guitar mags and buying a vinyl copy of his first album, Edge ofInsanity. Fast forward 25 or so years and his latest solo record simply called, Tony MacAlpine has been released. The self titled record is his 13th solo record and his, get this, his 26th overall! 26! Can you believe that? The extremely talented multi-instrumentalist has been a busy boy.

This latest effort is available from Steve Vai's (heard of him?)record company, Flavored Nations, and features 12 tracks of insanely blistering and intricate heavy shred guitar prowess, along with sensitive piano and acoustic stylings as well. MacAlpine himself, mans everything on this record except for drums, ably provided by Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats,Mike Keneally) and the drum god himself, Virgil Donati (Planet X, Steve Vai,Solo) and some bass work, provided by Phillip Bynoe. MacAlpine throws 7 and 8 string guitar, keyboards, bass and programming all at you all over this most recent solo effort. The results are well, very Tony MacAlpine like! Killer playing with some groove laden riffs and the old school Neo-Classical stuff takes a back seat to a more modern Metal approach that is heavier and quite enjoyable and often lyrical.

CD opener, "Serpens Caudo", starts this self titled CD off with a bang. A barnstormer with spastic riffing and bombastic drumming that really grabs your attention and then MacAlpine shreds your face off. Double bass pounding all over the place with guitar keeping pace, now that's how you set the tone for a record! Nice!! Now don't think that MacAlpine doesn't also get a keyboard workout, because he does that as meticulously as he does on guitar. Remember, Steve Vai hired him to play KEYBOARDS for him!! The guy can play anything AND well.

"10 Seconds to Mercury" is another standout track with Mr. Virgil Donati showcasing what he does best halfway through the song. All I can say is that there is a reason that he is referred to as "The Thunder From Down Under". His drumming is absolutely unbelievable and raises the bar for MacAlpine to keep up with. This record embodies what Tony MacAlpine has been about for all these years, Jazz/Fusion, Heavy Metal,Prog and just straight up Rock, all done in an instrumental-guitar driven vein.

This self titled record finds Tony MacAlpine in top form and will find a home with guitar fans of all types. With the understanding of the Metal guitar trends that have been changing around him in today's Metal scene, 7 & 8 string guitars have been heavily showcased around some very awe-inspiring compositions. This all instrumental effort is a really good listen with some nice surprises thrown in. Guitar fans, you won'tbe disappointed.

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