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Monday, June 4, 2012

Jeff Loomis - Plains of Oblivion review

Year : 2012
Genre : Massively Instrumental Progressive Metal with Djent tints
Label : Century Media
Origin : United States
Rating : 9.2 / 10

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Unless you are one of the gentlemen listed in the poll at the right sidebar of this site, or, if you are armed with a delusion of guitar-grandeur - oh, which guitarist isn't? - then know that Jeff Loomis plays a meeeean-mean guitar a supreme prickord can't dismiss and keep a reputation. I confess I totally and completely am unfamiliar with the catalog of Mr. Loomis' premiere ex-squad Nevermoore, but I always am open to hear the results whenever a renowned guitarist emerges to declare a solo contribution that promises high definition melodic shreddage. The more your guitar sounds like an 8-bit Nintendo synth, the better you are, and this is not a joke, nor an exceptionally bad one at that. Read on to find out more about this eloquent blend of massively instrumental and granulatedly vocal delivery.

The disc features all the guitars in the whole wide world and then some more, and this exactly is what you are looking for, isn't that right? Jeff Loomis and his trademark signature model loves to sport the seventh string, because, as Mr. Loomis says, the additional string gives him a wide, massive, clean low end. The  shape of music the disc contains is top level instrumental progressive metal with a djent flavor - courtesy of the seventh - coming to you via a level of so decently and meticulously realized signature-intricacy that sooner or later you will fail to scrutinize the soundscape with scientific rigor, and will accept that you have no other chance than to submit to it. If you are any kind of a  music nerd, that is. In other words : Jeff Loomis delivers the top tier audio goodies at both the low- and mid segments of the global frequency domain, and, not surprisingly, the high frequency is all about the rampant exhibition of high definition shredtasticular shr3dd4g3 sk1llzzzz, biatch. As noted, the base of the music is progressive metal with a tame djent fascination, and, thank God & Co. - including Mr. Loomis - is not the tamer kind of it, either. The disc strikes a metaphorical high note with a stupendously aggressive opening track and it never goes below the super-steep high standard it defines as an opening gesture.

The flow is colored by guest solos here and there, while the track titles always will inform you of such events. Look! Marty Friedman is on it! The guy has superb instructional videos. The album features numerous other guest soloists showcasing their propensity and related readiness to deliver a luscious solo or two.

What equally is interesting, is the incorporation of a set of vocal tracks. The majority of these songs feature Christine Rhoades, who, if I am not mistaken, is the original female lead vocalist of Nevermore, Loomis' premiere former squad which no longer is active. The vocal track called "Tragedy And Harmony" sports one of the best chorus-hooks I have heard this year so far. It is a blend between an eloquently/beautifully channeled metal-Abba and PROPERLY DONE teenpop djent. (Meshuggah = djent. Periphery = teenpopdjent.)

Notice! This same track also showcases how Jeff Loomis falls into the trap of Yngwie Malmsteen. Hilarious stuff, and I'm not sure whether or not Loomis did this to see if anyone will notice. I did, Mr. Loomis! I did!
Look! The guitar phrase starting out at 3:37 in "Tragedy and Harmony" is 95% the same as the Malmsteen phrase starting out at 4:19 in the studio version of "Far Beyond the Sun". Loomis admits in an interview that he is influenced by Malmsteen, which makes the act of phrase borrowing more tolerable. Regardless, Malmsteen's rendition of the original "Far Beyond the Sun" phrase in question remains untouched to this moment, regardless how 2384782347823423423 YouTube imitators seek to achieve the same effect. Keep trying!

There are some other nice additions to color up the shredtasticular flow of the album, too : I like the other track that features the same lady, too, with a more restrained, but still very efficient and now-fragile tone to the song, and there is a statement called "Rapture" - hey, I, too, have a song called Immune - The Rapture - which is a pretty funny routine-exercise at turning bonfire cowboy music into classical fretboard-lamentations for the mere fun of it.

Jeff Loomis' technique is supremely eminent and eloquent, thus, seeing him play the guitar - because he loves to play the guitar - could be a legitimate source of solo-inspiration, simply because the man respects every note in a phrase while never coming short of them, and maintains superb command of the flow all the while. His primer musical language, on the other hand, is nothing too out of the ordinary right now, as I noticed. Luckily, he is free of the used gym socks blues-fixation, but he exhibits a tad more of Yngwie Malmsteen's godlike Phrygian command than I personally think is beneficiary. But he is not a Malmsteen 0.75 like Joe Romero, either. Here is how Malmsteen approaches the Phrygian tint of things through a guitar lesson demonstration.

All in all, this here easily is one of the most ripe sonic declarations of the year when witnessed from the angle of its own ambitions. High definition, eloquent metal music which is reigning equally free of tender emotive tendencies and lubricant guitar-wankery. This album comes to kill by shred. OK, I'm in!

Rating : 9.2 / 10

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