Thursday, November 28, 2013

CD Review – Ax Inferno, by Paul Speer

Ax Inferno is right, because this guy's on fire!
Speer's fourth independent and fourteenth overall commercial release is my first encounter with the Emmy Award-winning, Grammy Award-nominated guitarist, who has immediately skyrocketed into the upper echelon of my favorite six-string slingers, including Andy Summers, Eric Johnson, Hiram Bullock, and Mike Moreno.
In addition to unleashing fiery, scorching guitars, Speer plays bass and keyboards, and Ron Krasinski plays pulse-pounding drums on four tracks.
What elevates Speer into the stratosphere of awesome guitarists is that he is more than simply an exceptional, virtuosic soloist. Sure, he can shred with the best of them (I would put him on the level of Eddie Van Halen), but he also sculpts beautiful, mesmerizing, atmospheric sonic textures. But when he lets loose, boy does he let loose.
Speer is also an excellent bass and keyboard player, belting out dynamic, thumping low frequencies and synthesizing dreamy, edgy washes of sound, as well as some techno beats.
What holds everything together is the structural integrity of the compositions. More than simply a platform for Speer's electric flights of fancy, the songs live and breathe with a beginning, middle, and end anchored by melodic and rhythmic grooves.
This is an essential recording for electric guitar enthusiasts.
--Raj Manoharan

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