Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas and Upcoming News

First off, merry christmas to all from the whole Shred Academy team, we hope you have a great one and a succesful new year. Remeber to have more shred as part of your new years resolutions!!

And now for some news which i am quite excited about.
I have been given permission to do my first interview (not sure how good i will be at it) with upcoming talent Dallton Santos. Dallton is a player i am very excited about as he shows great chops and musicallity and shows a lot of promise. Here is a video of a short composition by him. http://youtube.com/watch?v=7fJbYpVIFk8

Dallton is also working on an exclusive lesson for the Shred Academy website and im sure it will be great.
If you guys know of any up and coming players you think deserve a mention in the blog then please feel free to give one of the team an email and well see if we can get in touch.

Once again, Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Album review - Theodore Ziras "Hyperpyrexia"

The 3rd instrumental album from Theodore Ziras, Hyperpyrexia, is here and "The new Ziras Era" is upon us. Featuring the legendary Derek Sherinian (ex Dream Theater), the guitar/keyboard solo duels are enough to leave any shredhead for dead.

Ziras blazes through all 10 tracks at speeds that must have almost set his Palm Bay guitars on fire. But as speedy as he is, Theo’s got some interesting things to say as well (instrumentally speaking). Having your chops together is one thing, but if your phrasing is anywhere nearly as good as Theo’s, then you’re on the right track.

The first track, “Child of Scotland”, reflects "The new Ziras Era" in a big way. The Celtic melodies are light hearted and easy on the ear, while Derek’s solo remains faithful to the theme.

You can immediately hear one of Ziras’s biggest influences on the second track, “Such and Such”. The dance between the Dorian and Aeolian modes in the solo are undeniably “Satch”.

“Rapid Eye Movement” is the burner of the album. Theo cranks the Greek God speed up to 280bpm in some runs, sweeping and shredding his head off. Look out for the keyboard and drum solos at the end.

Track 4, “Solitude”, is very dark and broody. You can tell that Theo was in an intense place in his life when he wrote this track. Purists might not call the solo shredding, while others might say that it’s the best solo Theo has ever played.

A first for Ziras, the odd time signature in “Seven Courses” is a great match for the powerful Phrygian Dominant melodies. Yngwie Malmsteen, another massive influence on Theo is hugely present here.

“Salvation” is probably the easiest track on the album to listen to. The melody is singable and apparently even Theo’s mom likes this track.

In the seventh track, “Number One”, Derek cunningly uses traditional Greek grooves in his solo. (Some licks to steal, for sure)

“Night of the Dead” has gone down very well when Theo has played it live. Some might hear a bit of Metallica in the mix, others might not. All I know it that the riffs are huge.

Number nine is the title track and it’s a mind-blower. A nod to John Petrucci, with diminished intro, a mystical verse, a catchy chorus and odd meters floating all over the place. This is my favourite track.

The last track, “Go East”, showcases the insane drumming chops owned by L.A. resident Brian Tichy. But don’t be fooled, Theo comes to the fore with some tasty “East orientated” melodies.

A unique blend of progressive, fusion and shred comes together in this masterpiece. Definitely Theodore Ziras’s best yet.

Track listing:
1) Child of Scotland
2) Such and Such
3) Rapid Eye Movement
4) Solitude
5) Seven Courses
6) Salvation
7) Number One
8) Night of the Dead
9) Hyperpyrexia
10) Go East
Thoedore Ziras - Guitars
Derek Sherinian - Keyboards,
Brian Tichy – Drums
Manos Markopoulos - Bass

Visit http://www.theodoreziras.com/ for more info

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The History of Shred in a Nutshell, Part II: The Sweet Eighties

Hello shredheads! Last time we did a quick run through the most important guitarists of the pre-shred era, so today we’re gonna explore the golden age of virtuosic guitar – the 80s. After Eddie Van Halen had impressed the world with new soloing methods, dozens of young guitar hero wannebees began to practice patiently day and night, trying to match with the master. That lead to tons of great guitar music being recorded in the decade often associated only with pop and new romantic. There have appeared so much talented players that time, that we’ll just name really those biggest and most influential in here. Here we go!

RANDY RHOADS. While Eddie Van Halen was like “Page on steroids” due to his awesome technique and blues feel, Randy went rather the Blackmore path, bringing some stunning classical music ideas into the rock territory. He was an actual master in connecting various scales and arpeggios, also one of the first to use the diminished scales, which he mixed fluently with more traditional, pentatonic licks. It’s no doubt that his tragic death in an accident (at the age of merely 26) is one of the greatest losses for the rock guitar ever. He left way too few records, but enough to become a major influence on the next generations of players – his solos to Ozzy Osbourne’s hits like “Crazy Train”, “Mr. Crowley” or “Flying High Again” are still regarded one of the best ever written and played. And there is often said that nobody could mix melodic and virtuosic playing in such a perfect ratio as Randy did. He was an excellent classical and acoustic guitarist, too!

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. That name speaks for itself. One may like Yngwie or not, but it’s no doubt he’s one of the players who influenced the whole rock and metal music the most. You may also find his solo albums a bit repetitive, but such masterpieces as “Black Star” or “Far Beyond The Sun” have unquestionable place in the history of modern guitar playing. Yngwie was heavily inspired by Ritchie Blackmore, especially from his Rainbow days, and took his soloing approach on a new technical level, making everyone’s jaw drop by playing superfast sweep-picked arpeggios and fabulously precise scalar lines. He is also credited for introducing the harmonic minor scale to the world of rock. Beside that, an essential element of Yngwie’s style is his wide, passionate vibrato and distinctive tone of his Stratocaster. Every shred fan should have a listen or two to Yng’s solo debut – “Rising Force”, which is simply a classic today. I also recommend his best live release – “Trial By Fire” which shows how fervant an improviser is he.

JOE SATRIANI. For twenty years on the top, Joe is definitely one of the greatest stars of the guitar business. To save space and time, we’ll run thrugh his achievements and innovations rather briefly:

- superhuman legato playing and frequent use of stunning pick-tapping

- “piano like” two handed chordal tapping in pieces like “Midnight” or “Day at the beach”

- unparalleled mastery of the whammy bar and feedback

- unique mix of “feely” blues-flavoured playing and syntetic and exotic scales

- and above all that “technical” matters – AWESOME sense of melody! Listen to “Surfing With The Alien” and “Crystal Planet” albums to see what I mean!

Joe was also a great guitar teacher and some of his students have become actually huge rock stars. And STEVE VAI is perhaps the greatest player of all them. Technique-wise, he picked up many of Joe’s tricks, but developed his very own, unique style. Unlimited technical ability and creativity have been helping him with making insane, exciting music and go beyond all the borders. Whereas his great teacher has always had an amazing flair for catchy melodies and pleasant harmonies, Steve is more of a musical explorer, keen on experiments, some of which are hardly accessible to the average listener. However, when he hits the target – like in legendary “For The Love Of God” or the thrilling “Whispering a Prayer” – he can give the audience some sensations no one alse can give. Check out “Passion & Warfare”, “Fire Garden” or amazing live DVD “Live in Astoria” – one of the finest rock shows I’ve ever seen. It can take some time to become a Vai fan, but then I ensure you – you’re gonna be rewarded!

Next week we’ll learn a thing or two about the Shrapnel Records. See ya!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Album review - Katrina Johansson "Love Surrender Forgiveness"

Influenced by Gary Moore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Ritchie Blackmore, Joe Satriani, Michael Angelo Batio, Jimi Hendrix, Ty Tabor and Peter Lindgren, Katrina Johansson is back with a follow-up to her first EP, Guitarsongs Volume I (2005).

Produced by Mike Hoffmann, with additional recording and mixing at Studio One with Chris Djuricic, Katrina’s new EP, Love Surrender Forgiveness, shows an undeniable leap in composition and technique.

The first impression I had after listening to the first three of the four tracks, was how much self expression was conveyed and how personal each song sounded.

Katrina has garnered a lot of respect and become a female icon in the male dominated genres of shred and instrumental rock, and this new EP puts her in contention for the “new queen of shred” title.

The first track, “Scar Tissue”, starts with a big, foot-stomping riff and a very singable melody line. This track really shows off Katrina’s legato phrases and the outro solo has some amazing alternate picking.

The “eastern” feel of track two, “Bellydance”, has a very interesting melody (something to do with Katrina’s love of sweat inducing Indian food, maybe?). Look out for the nice build-up of tension before a very seductive break at around 2:24. This song got me thinking about Mesopotamia and pretty ladies behind coloured veils.

The title track, “Love Surrender Forgiveness”, is (to my ears at least) the most personal and reflective track. Katrina plays beautiful phrases throughout the song which keeps a very tender feel compared to the rest of the tracks on this hard rocking EP.

The remix of K-9 Lullaby showcases (for those who missed her first EP) Karina’s wonderful call and answer phrasing, with none other than the powerful Michael Angelo Batio on bass.

This new EP is definitely a step in the right direction for this vegetarian and Dean Guitars endorsee. Just one question: When will we see a full album?

Track listing:

1. Scar Tissue
2. Bellydance
3. Love Surrender Forgiveness
4. K-9 Lullaby


Katrina Johansson - Guitars
Wolfe - Drums
Mike Hoffmann - Bass, Slide Guitar, 12 String Guitar
Michael Angelo Batio - Bass (K-9 Lullaby)
Brad Rohrssen - Drums (K-9 Lullaby)

For more about Katrina visist www.katrinaguitar.com/

Monday, December 3, 2007

Keep this name on mind - SIMONE MULARONI

I have discovered that player recently and I can say nothing else than: he simply blew my mind! Just have a look. Up to date I've managed to learn only that he plays in a prog-metal band called "Empyrios" and is working on a solo material... well I suppose it will be something big. Now all we can do is to remember this name and keep track of his career... at least I wanna do so :)