Joe Stump-Revenge of the Shredlord
With the full-knowledge that shred guitar fans will be doing a facepalm, and perhaps a well-deserved one at that, I have to admit that up until this album landed in my inbox I had no idea who Joe Stump was. Feel free to mock me to your hearts content, but even if I am starting to enjoy shred guitar more and more I'm just not that familiar with all the names in the game. While that could be looked at as a gross oversight on my part I will say that, as it was my very first time ever hearing the man play, I went into this one with no preconceived notions that could have tainted my review. Sure, I do feel kind of stupid about it as this is his tenth solo release! Where have I been hiding out then? Here's the thing though. In addition to being a well-known and highly-respected solo guitarist ( Joe was named one of the 10 fastest shredders of all time by Guitar One as well as one of the 50 fastest players of all time by Guitar World magazine and one of the top 20 shredders of all time by Guitarist magazine!) he has played in The Reign Of Terror, Obsession, HolyHell, Raven Lord, Shooting Hemlock and way more bands/projects then could reasonably be mentioned here! So yes, there is no way that I shouldn't have heard of Joe Stump and his epic style of guitar playing. And yet here we are. Of course that does beg the question then as to what I thought about solo-album number ten from Joe. I've been on record in the past as saying that I didn't grow up loving shred guitarists and the neo-classical sort. In my high school days I found them terribly tiring. Yngwie fans will moan and groan, but I found him the worst kind of all. Before I go off into a tangent about Yngwie though (and trust me I could as the guy is beyond dull to these ears) let's talk about what I love about "Revenge of the Shredlord". In a very real way Joe plays music with meaning. It's not just a showcase for Joe's amazing skills as a guitarist, which is not in doubt at all, but rather "Revenge of the Shredlord" comes across as real heavy metal as played by a real band. In other words it's not just Joe standing online doing his thing and his thing only. Rather this album, despite being a "solo" release, sounds more like a band project from a really cool outfit. Musically this release is said to be heavier and more intense then his previous recordings. As it's my first time hearing Joe and his band-mates I'll just have to take their word on that one. I will however vouch for the fact that this release is heavy and intense! It's also a bit dark (which again is something the promo says is new) around the edges, but it's not one of those doom and gloom affairs. If anything you could simply look at this album as if it is a heavy rocker from an instrumental speed/U.S. power metal band. And speaking of band, on album number ten Joe is aided by bass player Jay Rigney (HolyHell and more), keyboardist Rock Jetstream (I'm assuming that's his Christian name!) and drummer Héctor "Blaster" Jaramillo (Kaala). Additionally Francisco Palomo (HolyHell) helps out on keyboards and together all of these musicians have created a album that sounds fantastic! Joe Stump's guitar solos are obviously insane, but there's real emotion behind the music and if you were to add a lead vocalist to this mix you'd be hard pressed to consider this simply "shred guitar"! Given that I had a blast listening to Joe Stump's "Revenge of the Shredlord" as it focuses on the overall picture not just crazy guitar solos that sacrifice substance for supposed "skill". I'm highly recommending this one to all metal fanatics whether you love shred guitar or not!