The latest solo album from Dream Theater keyboard ace Jordan Rudess is much of what you would expect from the virtuoso. Eight aggressive tracks littered with explosive keyboard soloing, bombastic drum work from Rod Morgenstein, solid bass grooves from Dave LaRue, and guest guitar performances from Steve Morse, Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore, and Greg Howe, plus Kip Winger adds vocals on two cuts. Shred fest you say...well, yes, and so much more!
Tunes like "Screaming Head" and "Time Crunch" are manic barn-burners of keyboard frenzy, as Rudess shows off his admirable chops with a wide array of sounds and textures. If you are expecting to hear some of what he displays on Dream Theater or Liquid Tension Experiment albums, then these first two cuts will be right up your alley. What might be more palatable to those with slightly sensitive tastes is the Zappa-meets-Dream Theater of "Insectsamongus", a fun track that has as much jazz to it as it does prog-metal. A nice fusion feel, thanks to the guest guitarists, can be heard on "What Four" (featuring a ripping Morse solo) and "Bar Hopping With Mr. Picky."
The vocal tracks with Kip Winger, "Beyond Tomorrow" and "Tear Before the Rain" are fairly mellow and moody numbers, not what you would expect to hear on a Jordan Rudess solo album,with Rudess supplying piano to Winger's heart-tugging meanderings. Hopefully he is not going to move in a direction like former Dream Theater Kevin Moore did with his Chroma Key project.
All in all, an ejoyable effort, perhaps not as strong as Rudess' previous outing Feeding The Wheel, but solid nontheless.
1) Time Crunch (6:26)
2) Screaming Head (7:25)
3) Insectamongus (9:31)
4) Beyond Tomorrow (9:55)
5) Bar Hopping With Mr. Picky (4:36)
6) What Four (6:50)
7) Ra (7:53)
8) Tear Before the Rain (6:39)
Total Time: 59:16