SCHON, NEAL - Vortex - CD - Mascot Label Group - 2015
Many years ago our ex-editor reviewed a Joe Satriani CD and concluded that
guitar solos alone, where the rest of the band sounds as a generic backup, are
boring. A few years later, I made a similar point about an Annihilator album.
Simply put, albums where the guitar - or any other instrument - does
everything, and the other instruments sound like a simple program, are boring!
Even the best guitar solo can be made better if the bass, keyboard, or drum
player participate and give it a background boost.
Enter Neal Schon - the man famous for playing in Journey - and Vortex,
his new double album. The guitar is superb. Solos, compositions, moods, 18
songs in total, all tasteful, all elaborated and carefully laid into place. The
man knows what he is doing.
The drummer, however, doesn't. And no, it's not a generic simplistic
drummer. We wish it was. Yes, we actually said that. We wish this was a
programmed, generic machine instead, but programmed by a metal guy. This one,
although not a machine, is a jazz drummer of the pretentious kind - sort of
"just play and sound like you know what you're doing, make it sound fancy
and expensive, and sometimes try to pay attention to the song". Maybe it's
not that bad and we are too harsh, but maybe it actually is. It all sounds the
same. No dynamics, no quiet parts. The guy constantly has to show off with how
many cymbals he can hit, even though the composition isn't asking for it. Also,
it sounds like he's using every possible excuse not to play two bass drums, a
galloping rhythm or just a simple straightforward beat sometimes. It's all the
same. Boring jazz, and this is not even a jazz album! Man, I don't know who you
are, and I'm not going to look it up [Ed note: it's Steve Smith, also a Journey
alumnus], but, please, listen to some power metal before you ruin another
record with this crap. You see what you did? You made us write about the drums ten
times more than about the guitars, in a review of a famous guitarist's solo
album. And we didn't even get to mention the keyboards or the bass. That's just
wrong. With better drums Vortex would be a solid 8 or 9, but, as it is,
it's a... (4.5/10)
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