This is called Fret-Essential and is issued by the webzine called "Quintessence". Their address is: http://community.webtv.net/metal-essence/QUINTESSENCE2000. This is a compilation of up and coming and not well known guitar players and their music.
I love guitar playing and this is quite a nonstop barrage of the many styles guitar players love to play. At first listen I was unsure of how to review an all instrumental compilation featuring guitars. Now I like shredding and virtuosic displays as much as the next retired "old" metal guitarist but there has to be something more than just that.
All 15 of the players are wonderful and show lots of the tricks, speed, vibratos and runs we're all familiar with. I look for variation of tones/tone surprises within the songs he employs to enhance the songs, I also look for changes in the songwriting and the way in which the tunes were arranged. I looked for good melodies and interplay with other instruments. Then I looked for "tasty" players who could control their outbursts, I really hate it when a player starts a solo early and stops just a hair too late.
All of the players are excellent and the bands they have to support them were all more or less right on. I gave a letter grade to all the tracks and made notes about each one.
The CD starts with a favorite of mine. I have had the Fourth Estate's CD See What I See for a couple of years now and I think its an excellent example of how instrumental guitar prog should be done. "Kara Kum" is masterful in the ideas on display, in arrangement and use of a woman's vocals/chanting adds diversity and interest to a very good tune.
Of the 15 tracks there were 5 tracks that were speedy and real heavy as is the style in new dark and death metal. The thing that I didn't like was that these were all intense, speedy and heavy affairs but they didn't show much variation and dynamics in the backing music. All of these got "B's" for scores with Art Faccio's "Fire Storm" being the best of the lot due to his very good if somewhat over much soloing.
Ray Detone's "The Journey Begins" is a well done song. It starts out with a rooster crowing, a nice acoustic guitar intro finger picked and solo run. It changes tones with the main guitar playing a high melancholic melody run. The speed increases to a faster beat the tones changing to a more trebly rhythm guitar figure. The early opening returns with the guitar playing an acoustic guitar (soloing and fills) adding a nice touch overall.
The cream of this CD to me are the following songs (7,8,9, and 10). "Inside out" by John Sullivan is a very well done song. Middle eastern in feel with an alternate rock kind of basic structure. Rare Blend's offering has clean intro with multitracked guitar and keys, a very good song. Dave Villano's song "Carpe Diem part 1" begins with acoustic guitars and features a good mix of acoustic and electric guitar textures. The basic song is a strong rocker. The interplay between pianos and el. guitars are interesting in the songs middle and ending sections. "Rebel Hot" is a basic rocker done by Nicola Fassi. The solos are well done and he changes guitar tones well to fit the song and add interest.
Sean Mercer does "Opus 2" and it has a Spanish Latin opening and keeps that up with a speedy semi classical note barrage. The change is very nice done with acoustic guitar and harpsichord like keys.
Of the 15 players here I liked 6 a lot and they scored "A's or A-'s". Not one of the players used a lot of effects but mostly combinations of clean and distorted tones, some wah and trem also. All in all this is a very nice taster of what guitar players are doing nowadays. I don't hear a whole "lot of widdly widdly" guitar runs but more speedy scalar runs with the best ones being able to play "tasty". Fans of shredding or excellent guitar playing will like this CD (there isn't a lot of wanking though). Check out the webzine also.