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(52:48, ‘Adrian Weiss’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Awkward Silence 4:44 2. Instant Relief 4:03 3. Aim to Please 4:23 4. Immediate Measures 3:45 5. The Last Days 4:16 6. Hacienda 4:11 7. Camel's Dance 4:19 8. Second Sunrise 3:35 9. The Offering 4:21 10. Easy Game 4:05 11. Night Owl 5:51 12. Offbeat Frankenstine 5:15 LINEUP: Adrian Weiss – guitars Marcel Willnat – bass Lars Zehner – drums With: Nine more guitarisrs and two bassists
Prolusion. German composer and guitarist Adrian WEISS has been involved in various bands and projects since the ‘90s and is a seasoned performer and instrumentalist. In 2011 he decided to launch a solo career when he released the album "Big Time", a production that appears to have been met with a fair share of acclaim. "Easy Game" is Weiss' second solo album, self-released in 2014.
Analysis. Guitarists and their solo albums have always been something of an interesting case. Some people love them and can't seem to listen to enough productions of that kind, others find them to be less than inspiring, and in truth, there have been some rather iffy examples of guitarist solo albums over the years, productions that mainly have suffered from being more a showcase about the guitarist and his technical skills and less about actual and fully developed songs. This particular specimen comes off to a somewhat slow start in that respect. The first two tracks are pleasant and inventive enough, but, to my ears, with a tad too much focus on the guitar and not quite enough substance provided by the supporting instrumentalists. Fine and pleasant excursions, but the type of material that I would regard as ones mainly of interest to those with an existing affection for instrumental guitar-driven songs. From then and onward this CD gets more interesting however. Weiss is a skilled guitarist, which he does showcase very well throughout, but I find him at the most interesting when the drums and bass come across as more vital, often by providing small, subtle details. Which I generally find them to do starting with the aptly named Aim to Please. Not that there are any dramatic differences, and I admit that some of those impressions may well be formed by getting more under the skin of this album as it unfolds too, but still I find that this piece is a something of a transition point. What all the compositions share is the manner in which multiple themes and approaches are explored, and the most interesting of the songs also add a bit of style variation. The greater majority of the compositions operate within a hard rock and arguably progressive metal-oriented context, but the darker, almost rockabilly-sounding touches on Hacienda most certainly add another dimension to that track, and the generally playful approach explored on Camel's Dance, complete with some funk-tinged details, makes this one my select cut from the album. The occasional addition of jazz-tinged elements is another aspect that makes this a more interesting total album experience, expanding the scope of this production in an efficient and well thought-out manner. While the guitar soloing ultimately will get a lot of the spotlight on a production of this kind, with a host of guests chiming in their particular solo runs to add to the variation there, one should take note of the underlying riffs as well. Many of the more intriguing songs here also feature sections where these underlying riffs are featured more prominently in the mix, as well as in the song proper, and for good reason too. Weiss knows his way around a good and compelling riff arrangement. In addition there are a few instances where he gets to showcase that he is also a talented guy when providing supplemental guitar motifs of a gentler nature as well. Otherwise I note that we're treated to a great variety of guitar soloing, with both neoclassical runs and shredding present besides harmony runs, effects-laden deliveries and quite a few fairly inventive and captivating guitar solo runs that most likely will find a better and more detailed description given by those with a deep knowledge about recordings of this particular kind.
Conclusion. All in all, I find "Easy Game" to be an interesting album. Not a production with the same mass appeal as, for instance, Joe Satriani's earliest excursions, but a fine and good-quality affair that showcases a versatile instrumentalist, and one who is able to create songs that will have some appeal also outside of the typical instrumental metal guitar interested crowd. When that is said, I regard this album as one that first and foremost will intrigue that specific market, and then in particular those who tend to enjoy instrumental guitar albums featuring material of a more sophisticated manner in general and somewhat dominated by a progressive metal in particular.
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