Album Review: MARTY FRIEDMAN Wall of Sound
It is utterly fascinating to witness a virtuosic guitarist's progression through the span of over thirty years. Earlier output from groups such as Hawaii and Shout captures the unbearable 80's cheesy qualities clash with an axe-man's undeniable talent. Cacophony cast the spotlight more directly on Friedman's neoclassical interests and his transition towards a decade long stint in one of thrash's big four bands. Although many people link Marty Friedman's name to his time in Megadeth, being one who isn't a big Dave Mustaine and Friends fan, I find myself more intrigued by Friedman's solo works.
Granted, his first couple releases back in the late 80's to early 90's still held onto the extra-pizzazz that I found to be a turn-off. But with time, the guitarist honed his skills into something more unique and special. And the mere fact that Friedman has now arrived at his 13th solo album is impressive enough, yet the gradual increase in musical exploration leading up to the peak on Wall of Sound is an insane realization to encounter. This record continues Friedman's work with the amazing drummers Anup Sastry and Gregg Bissonette as well as Japanese bassist Kiyoshi. With Friedman at the production helm, there were many other compelling individuals assisting. Paul Fig, known for working with Ghost, Rush, and Alice in Chains engineered the LP. Jens Bogren, the legend behind countless classic records from the likes of Opeth and Katatonia, mixed the album beside Queen producer, Mack.
Within the first two minutes, I learned a hard lesson. Never hold expectations for someone as eccentric as Marty Friedman, the man who transitioned from thrashy shredding on Megadeth to the Jpop endeavor on the Tokyo Jukebox releases. "Self Pollution" opens up the album with some lightning speed guitar finger fucking. I was already in awe of Marty's abilities and eccentricity, but when the song slowed down to a psychedelic Pink Floyd pace, I knew that I was in for something truly unexpected. With each song, the experimentation is pushed to even farther extremes in both emotional and technical aspects with "Streetlight"and "For a Friend" tugging at your heartstrings while "Whiteworm" takes an Animals as Leaders-esque turn.
There has been an exceptional amount of guest musicians in Marty's previous solo releases and Wall of Sound does not stray from such magnificence. I never went down the Black Veil Brides fandom path, so I was surprised and impressed to learn that their guitarist Jinxx was a violinist on "Sorrow and Madness." The dynamic duality of the violin and piano duet followed by Marty on guitar brought some classical flair. Shiv Mehra, the guitarist for Deafheaven added a borderline post-black metal backdrop to "Pussy Ghost." While the song is far from anything on a Deafheaven record, there is definitely a flavor of both artists present. The same can be said for "Something to Fight," in which Shining mastermind Jorgen Munkeby sings on. Although Munkeby previously lent his saxophone expertise to "Meat Hook" off Friedman's previous LP Inferno, I find this song to be more gripping as Jorgen's vocals work perfectly on the track.
I feel as if instrumental guitar-driven releases are constantly ridiculed for the ego wanking riff repetition. And while there may be a few songs that have some slightly over indulgent shred moments on this record, the high majority of these compositions are rooted in sonic and tonal experimentation within incredibly intelligent and emotional songwriting. All in all, Wall of Sound is without a doubt a redefining moment in the instrumental shred subgenre.