Ever since 2003’s Music For Speeding, former Megadeth guitarist and current japanophile Marty Friedman has returned from the more mellow, atmospheric moods of his 90s material to the kind of adrenaline-heavy, occasionally shreddy brilliance that he first burst out with on his solo debut Dragon’s Kiss and on the works of Cacophony. Very naturally according to the waves of his newly adopted native land, his most recent albums have also noticeably incorporated the kind of industrialized/sequenced/whathaveya sound effects and samples that one can quite easily encounter in J-rock. While these influences have thus far lead to mixed results, on Bad D.N.A. Friedman hits a serious sweet spot. Even if I’m not sure what sweet spot that is.
In general, no matter the genre I tend to loathe any kind of drum machines, loopy samples, sequenced beats or the like that give the music a non-organic feel to it. I may not be that successful in making this distinction, but take as an example that in the realm of metal, I can tolerate very little of what passes for industrial metal in standard conversations. While that’s not to say by any means that Friedman has gone all Rammstein on this album, holy hell how has he made stuff this great with such blatant usage of computerized drum sounds and assorted tools of the damned?!?
I mean nearly every song, instrumental throughout, has either a in-itself-a-little-infuriating drum sound that screams “a monotonous machine” or some quirky programmed samples here and there that at face value makes me believe that there is no way I should be adoring this stuff…but I am. Marty’s guitar work and melodies are just too fooking catchy, too impressive, too good!
And said craftsmanship, which makes this just about my biggest surprise of 2010 if not the past decade, covers a lot of ground style-wise. The opening track Specimen makes no bones about the upcoming direction with a blatant techno beat under the heavy riffage, but said riffage along with the blazing leads can’t be denied. Speaking of undeniable, the title track up next has got to be one of my favourite songs of the year, just mercilessly catchy with an interestingly sinister vibe amidst the rocking, something like the perfect soundtrack for Dr. Frankenstein (or his assistant) hitting the switch and bringing his abomination to life.
Weapons of Ecstacy comes in with some delightful Nintendo-style sounds that then lead into a neck-twisting groove and headbang session – all despite that damn techno beat. Or speaking of grooves, check out the devastatingly awesome and Panteraesque middle part of Glorious Accident. Or speaking of video games, check out Battle Scars or School Spirit Delinquent which I could easily hear on the soundtrack of you chosen Final Fantasy. While not quite Uematsuesque in grandeur, the vibe is there with the keyboards and such. If you’re yearning for the atmospheric stylings of Friedman’s 90s albums, Picture and Exorcism Parade give you a little nourishment along with the utterly ridiculous but still brilliant bonus track, which is a guitar-driven cover of the classical crossover hit Con Te Partirò (credited here with the English title Time To Say Goodbye). I mean good lord, he’s covering pseudo-opera on guitar with, sure enough, a corny techno beat breaking in eventually and yet, I can dig it. So hard.
For those wondering, I also assure you that praising something like this is
not just a reactionary result of the artist responsible being someone as revered
as Marty Friedman. Garbage is garbage no matter whose name is on the label but
this sucker is one of my favourites of 2010 and the best new instrumental album
I've heard in years. The basic staple of a great-guitarist-solo-album holds
true: the shred is melodic and darn catchy instead of just technically impressive,
but Bad D.N.A. is so much more. It takes elements on paper that I should
hate pretty much outright and makes me love it. I don’t know if I’ve
ever loved anything this…”modern”-sounding this much. Damn
Killing Songs :
All of 'em, dammit!
|Aleksie quoted 90 / 100|
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