After a prolonged absence in the U.S. Marty Friedman is back with a brand new studio album and boy is it a good one. With a who’s who of seasoned players to collaborate with the results are nothing short of spectacular. I’m not always one for guitar players’ solo records. There really has to be something there for me besides the shred or it’s just the same thing over and over again and I get bored. One of my favorite albums of this type is JOHN 5’S God Told Me To. And I am very happy to report that Friedman’s Inferno (out May 27 via Prosthetic Records) is making me every bit as happy as that one did.
The title track gets this thing rolling with a wicked melody line and some serious riffage to go with a solo that runs as if possessed. “Resin” has more dark and sinister tones at the start before going totally batshit in a potent combo of thrash and power. For “Panacea” Friedman enlists flamenco/metal acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela for a song that I can only describe as highly addictive, due to its hills and valleys. The lead single “Steroidhead” features Keshav Dhar from SKYHARBOR (check them out if you haven’t!!), a band my buddy Matt turned me onto last December, and is one of the album’s best, no question. I knew when this was released that we were looking at a monster of a record!
I’ve said it before, I’m not much of a DANKO JONES fan, and yet his two contributions to Inferno are fucking excellent. The first of these is “I Can’t Relax” a balls-out rocker that isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, just rotate the tires and take the muscle car out for a spin. And all of a sudden comes a curveball in the form of “Meat Hook” featuring Jørgen Munkeby playing some CRAZY saxophone to go with Marty’s frenzied playing. My first listen I was like, “What in Sam Hill?!?” but by my second I was fully onboard with the craziness and loving it. Another short but sweet traditional metal tune is next with “Hyper Doom”. It goes off to the races and seriously shreds the entire time. REVOCATION’S David Davidson provides vocals on “Sociopaths”, an all-out thrasher that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go for six minutes.
Next up is my favorite track “Lycanthrope” the second one to feature DANKO JONES and also Alexi Laiho (CHILDREN OF BODOM). Normally you’d expect this not to be my thing but I couldn’t get enough of it from the minute I got the record. The interplay between Laiho and Jones works very well and the music is hard and aggressive as a tune with such a name should be. You’ll find my favorite solo here as well. And if it’s an anthemic quality you’re looking for then look no further than “Undertow” featuring drummer Gregg Bissonette and bassist Tony Franklin. A slower number, Friedman makes his guitar sing a gorgeous melody that floats out of the speakers and carries on into the night sky. Bravo, I say!
There’s something very special about “Horrors”. It marks the first time Marty Friedman and Jason Becker (who has ALS) have written together since their days in CACOPHONY, yes, but there’s more than that. Its composition takes you on a journey and where it will end up, who knows? I really enjoyed the running solo, too. Wrapping it all up nicely is “Inferno (Reprise)” a two-minute outro so to speak that is all Friedman simply wailing away, doing what he does. I’m not gonna say I’m surprised by how great Inferno is because quite frankly I’m not. The surprises to me came in the form of who guested on what and how some of the songs turned out, but pleasant ones all. This is a fantastic record and a must-have for any serious music fan.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM