Roughly eight years ago I pulled my head out of my ass and realized that solo instrumental albums from world renowned guitarists could actually be quite good. I credit JOHN 5’S God Told Me To for this. Since then I have enjoyed many of these records, and it’s pretty clear that I will continue to do so. Which brings me to the new disc from DREAM THEATER’S John Petrucci. Called Terminal Velocity, it’s out now via Sound Mind Music/The Orchard and it is quite frankly pretty stellar. Listen, whether or not DREAM THEATER put out a good or bad record over the years, one thing you could always count on was fiery guitar work from Mr. Petrucci. So it should come as a surprise to exactly no one that this thing is fucking killer.
Opener and title track “Terminal Velocity” is off and running, with a fluid tone that reminded me of Eric Johnson’s playing, which is obviously a compliment as far as I’m concerned. Next up is “The Oddfather”, and it’s a doozy. Crunching riffs combined with Mike Portnoy’s drumming (yep!), and awesome bass work from Dave LaRue make for a fantastic song. “Happy Song” was and is my runaway favorite on this whole endeavor because it makes me think of summer and doing all the things with Mrs. Amps and Mini-Amps, which makes me smile. Such a great melody and beautiful execution from beginning to end.
“Gemini” comes in like a bolt from the blue and the band goes off, especially Petrucci. He damn near sets the fretboard on fire with this one. Speaking of the color blue, we are treated to “Out of the Blue” next, a slow-paced, errrr…blues number. Beautifully done and highly understated, it hits in all the sweet spots. “Glassy-Eyed Zombies” is heavy and chunky, the chords ringing out into the night, while “The Way Things Fall” is equal parts anthemic and majestic from beginning to end. Another favorite for sure. I wasn’t sure where “Snake In My Boot” was going at first, but Holy Hell am I glad that I stuck around for that ride! You’ll love it, trust me.
Closing the disc is “Temple of Ciradia,” easily the heaviest number on the whole thing. Layered in darkness with a push/pull stop/start thing going on it’s a tasty way to end things. It’s been 15 years since John Petrucci did a solo record. Well, Terminal Velocity is proof positive that he shouldn’t wait that long to do another one. He is truly one of the most influential and innovative players of a generation, and the world can only benefit from more of his musical offerings, both in his main gig and on his own. If you buy this album right now I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. So listen to me, do as I say, and make that purchase. Go! Now!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM