Joe Stump - Armed And Ready - Leviathan 2003 Reviewed by: Vinaya
1. Mind Games 2. Prisoner Of Time 3. Day Of Doom 4. Hurricane X 5. Chasing Rainbows 6. Armed And Ready 7. Hot Nights 8. Destination
Few guitarists do what Joe Stump does for shred guitar and the technique-crazy culture surrounding it. Whether he’s sweep-picking up a storm on his solo albums, creating metal mayhem with Mike Vescera in Reign Of Terror (and apparently the new Obsession lineup), or teaching fleet-fingered young hopefuls the tricks of the trade at Boston’s Berklee School Of Music, he’s doing his part for the love of shred.
Okay, maybe I’m getting a little cheesy here, but on the heels of several well-received releases over the last decade comes yet another fine shred-fest in Armed And Ready. And while some may brush it off as merely more of the same, the album is distinguished from his previous work by its status as part of Leviathan’s Guitar Masters Series. Conceived by label head and fellow fret-burner David T. Chastain, this series consists of several recordings by different guitar virtuosos, all putting their stamp over fairly Spartan bass and drum patterns from Chastain and drummer Mike Haid. The idea was to capture aspects of the players’ styles not often heard in their own compositions, by forcing them to play outside their personal “boxes,” if you catch my drift.
And for fans of intense instrumental rock guitar, the results hardly disappoint. Sure, a couple of the songs drift on a bit longer than necessary, and it would have been nice to have more full and expansive production values. Overall, however, I found Armed And Ready to be a fairly enjoyable listen, though I ha ve yet to hear the other Guitar Masters releases. To my ears, the middle portion of the disc comes across the strongest, with my three favorite tracks all in a neat little row. “Hurricane X” is a mid-tempo shuffle that pays homage to Ritchie Blackmore, while “Chasing Rainbows” is a cool fast rocker that features some of the most intense playing on the album (personally, I think the titles of these two songs should have been swapped).
The title track is a nice, meaty, no-frills (well, not really) hard rocker that provides a welcome easing of the pace. Stump provides good track-by-track liner notes, letting us know what he was thinking and what influenced his playing on each track. Personally, I don’t hear some of the things he alludes to (like the supposed aping of Michael Schenker on “Prisoner Of Time”) all that clearly; To my ears, it all sounds pretty much like Joe Stump. But hey, that’s not a complaint (I mean, like, one could do a lot worse).
Anyway, when it comes do wn to it, Armed And Ready is certainly a quality release, but if you want a real taste of what Stump is all about, I would suggest checking out his original compositions via his other solo releases, or (for the instrumental-shy) one of the Reign Of Terror albums.
About this Writer: Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.
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