Yngwie Malmsteen...Joe Satriani...Steve Vai...all names of well known, well-respected shred guitarists. Well, a new name needs to be added to your list--Maxxxwell Carlisle. Some of you may know him from his current work with Hellion or you may have heard one of his prior solo albums. He also played with Deathriders in 2011. His newest album, "Visions of Speed and Metal", is a clinic of neoclassical/shred guitar work. The opening title track, features Fang VonWrathenstein from Lords of the Trident. It's a ripping track with soaring vocals, drums that will blast you out of your seat, and enough fancy guitar work to impress Eddie Van Halen. As the album progresses though, the vocals take a back seat to the guitar work. If you were expecting a power metal album with minimal guitar, you are going to be severely disappointed. The album highlights Carlisle's ridiculous fretwork and frenetically fast sweep-picking. The two tracks that stood out to me from the album are "Duet for Electric Guitar and Electric Cello in A Minor", which features cellist Tina Guo and the track "Axis Accelerator" which features guitar freak Michael Angelo Batio. The prior track, "Duet" for short, is one of the craziest, insane things I've heard. Guo is highlighted quite a bit throughout but the fact that she's able to match Carlisle to some extent just blew my mind. The speed and precision with which her bow must be moving is just unconscionable and truly amazing to listen to. The track with Batio--"Axix Accelerator"--is just straight-up shredders trading off licks against each other, much like the guys from DragonForce do throughout their songs. Batio and Carlisle make a formidable tandem due to their speed, sound and precision. The whole album kind of grates on you after a while as it is just guitar solo after ripping guitar solo. The drums on this album though...good lord. I felt like someone was firing a round from an M1 Abrams tank right under my chair. They are ridiculously heavy and bombastic. All in all, shredheads and guitar lovers alike will salivate over this album as though they just secretly recorded EVH performing all his improvised solos.
About this Writer: Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.
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