When considering "country-of-origin" for guitar shredders one does not usually consider India. Well, John Ferns is probably hoping to change that with this independently released solo effort entitled Axetacy.
This instrumental CD takes a different approach than other guitar spotlight recordings because its focus is on creating music for the mind; not just the body. There is an inherent tendency found here to invoke restraint, playing for the song and not the spotlight, while never venturing to far away from the original melody. Simply put, this is about creating music that is very accessible for musicians and non-musicians alike.
In terms of approach, like Ace Frehley, John makes clever use of repetitive figures to build/strengthen themes that land right in your headspace. But that's where the Ace influence seems to end as this guitar player is decidedly more melodic. His overall tone is somewhat "softer" in nature and his attack sits right in between legato and percussive. For the most part, his songs are simple chord progressions over top basic (programmed) rhythm foundations, with a hook. This is definitely not prog. by any means. So keep that in mind if you seek this out. The focus of Axetacy is creating something lyrical and memorable.
In terms of song-writing influence you can tell he listened to a lot of Joe Satriani. Listening to his ballad 'Modest Star' brings back memories of 'Always with Me Always with You' with its slow and inspired emotional phrasing. There is also some indication of his ethnicity present in the music. In the opening track 'Axetacy' he recalls the ancient sounds of the sitar with articulation, not some cheap Danelectro effect. 'Thundery Sky' proved to be the elusive track that held up this review until I figured out where he copped that main riff from!? Faced with the daunting task of rifling through a whole collection of instrumental guitar CD's was not my idea of a fun way to spend an evening, but then it just came to me…'Evil Eye' by Malmsteen. Believe me, there is no argument on that one! My biggest criticism of the recording is that his vibrato is M.I.A. in most of the songs. If you want to have an original identity, you must have that down cold. Anyway, some of the small misgivings don't detract from the fact that this E.P. can attain a certain level of connection with the listener. That is the most important thing.
2. Looking Ahead
3. Modest Star
4. Days of Joy
5. Thundery Sky
6. Opus 69