You have to give Marty Friedman credit. He could have taken the easy route post-Megadeth and formed his own metal band or just done more shred records and everyone would have been happy. Except he wouldn’t have. He loves the Japanese culture so he moved there and did some TV and some J-Pop and was extremely happy. On his terms.
However, the metal siren’s call was to much to resist and he is back with Inferno. It is a collection of instrumentals along with some very cool guest stars. It starts with a couple of said instrumentals that show off Marty’s handy work. (See what I did there?) Neat part about them is that they are both noticeably different in approach and sound but still equally entertaining. Now Inferno goes into the guest phase. First up is “Wicked Panacea” with Rodrigo y Gabriela, the outstanding neuvo flameno guitar duo. The song incorporates them perfectly as Marty’s playing allows them to easily slide in and out throughout the track. Truly remarkable. Canadian hard rock hero Danko Jones provides some lead vocals on “I Can’t Relax”. Again Marty crafts a song tailored for Danko and shows a different side of himself while exposing Danko to those who may not be familiar with his awesomeness. My favorite track is “Meat Hook” and it features Jorgen Munkeby of The Shining on saxophone.
If you are not familiar with The Shining, they are a Norwegian avant garde metal band and Jorgen is the lead singer that occasionally breaks out the saxophone. He is brilliant and so is this track. Similar to what he did on “Wicked Panacea”, Marty lets Jorgen play what he wants over the track as they intertwine and eventually harmonize. I love this song so much and it is a true testament to what someone can do if they are willing to push the boundaries. I mean really push them. A lot.
Alex Laiho from Children of Bodom sings on “Lyncathrope” and it’s pretty good. As is “Sociopaths” with David Davidson of Revocation. I was hoping for a little more crazy shredding on this one considering who was involved. Inferno ends up with two very interesting tracks. “Undertow’ is a very light track that leads into “Horrors”. It seem like it’s a battle between classical influence, represented by the piano played, and shredding, his guitar. They go back and forth over the course of 6 minutes and it’s pretty impressive.
After grunge hit it became very uncool to know how to play with your guitar. Shredding was a dirty word and all of us that grew up looking forward to the newest Shrapnel release were doomed. Like with everything, time wins out. Shredding has returned and with it Marty Friedman. Inferno is a terrific reminder of what he could do plus it’s a better reminder of what he can do. And hopefully how others can push themselves.
Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space