By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
There are so many guitarists out there, looking to leave their mark in music today. They are one of most important assets in any band. They dazzle the crowd with pulsating riffs and ridiculously insane solos. To name a few, they include Eddie Van Halen, Zakk Wylde, Joe Perry, Marty Friedman, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. The one axe man who stands on his own two feet, and brings down the house every time he plays, is Joe Satriani. The guitarist who goes by Satch, is known for his progressive style and technical prowess. He started as an instructor for many legendary musicians like Alex Skolnick, Kirk Hammett, and Steve Vai. Between his solo work, he has also worked with a lot of groups, from Deep Purple to his supergroup with Sammy Hagar, Chickenfoot. The most successful instrumental rock guitarist of all time, is back at the helm with his latest work, What Happens Next.
Unlike his previous 2 releases, Shockwave Supernova (2015) and Unstoppable Momentum (2013), Satriani has opted to go in a more simplistic direction with his guitar work. It is really more accessible and has more soul. He collaborates with bass legend Glenn Hughes and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer, Chad Smith. The combination of all three talented musicians makes for an excellent instrumental rock record that has raw passion. Hughes adds in, a Motown influenced style, that blends in very nicely with Satriani’s out of this world licks. Smith provides solid drums, that ranges between heavy duty and soft spoken. Starting with “Energy,” it packs a punch that electrifies my rock ‘n’ roll soul.
With songs from “Thunder High on the Mountain,” to “Catbot” and “Invisible,” Satch has put together an array of songs that will satisfy any music lover. What is so great about “What Happens Next,” is his ability to mix his rock style with different genres, and make it sound unique. In the song “Cherry Blossoms,” it is like as if Latin rock joined forces with oriental style. It is very trippy, yet it serenades my ears. Another example would be “Super Funky Badass,” which I view as a throwback to days of slick funk rock. That is familiar territory for Smith. Each solo for each song Satriani plays, is something new and he does not try to repeat the same recipe. He shows off his jazz chops in “Smooth Soul.” He ends the record with the mellow blues number, “Forever and Ever.” It picks up in the middle of the song without going too crazy, and then calms things down in the end, in order to bring us back to Earth.
The alien rocker has a delivered a quality album, that is the right way to kick off 2018. Satriani knows his stuff, bringing in Hughes and Smith was definitely a good move. All three artists tapped into their musical talents, and brought synergy to the record. “What Happens Next,” is a daring attempt by Satch, and he hits it out of the park. If they sound this good on record, I can only imagine what they sound like live. To Joe Satriani, I salute you. Horns up!!! 9.5/10
3 Thunder High on the Mountain
4 Cherry Blossoms
6 Smooth Soul
9 What Happens Next
10 Super Funky Badass
12 Forever and Ever
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