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The Finnish guitar hero wannabe Elias "E.vil" Viljanen has come up with a follow-up to his debut album "Taking the Lead". Carrying the title of "The Leadstar", Viljanen's new album contains twelve instrumental songs (one being an instrumental cover of Lionel Richie's "Hello"). Although Viljanen certainly has both the chops and sense for melody, his songwriting skills need more work. At times the songs tend to sound repetitive and the song structure isn't that enthralling. Nonetheless, there are also exceptions to the rule as some songs are rather fortuitous.
The album starts off with a promising intro tune, but soon I noticed that rest of the material isn't as good as my first impression suggested. Fast-paced guitar playing can be delightful to listen to when the melodies are intriguing... unfortunately Viljanen tends to relapse into shredding some uninspiring melodies at times. Nevertheless, there are also some sections that favourably impress me.
Production on this record is quite good, although few "flaws" are clearly audible... for example, hum can be heard at the end of Northern Storm. Also some aspects of the mix could be further honed, but on average the sounds are quite fitting.
One of the biggest drawbacks on Viljanen's playing is the lack of originality... having heard a lot of different instrumental guitarists, I have noticed the unfortunate fact is that there aren't too many players with their own distinctive styles. Nonetheless, Elias Viljanen seems to have all the necessary "tools" to craft some spectacular yet innovative guitar instrumentals. Hopefully, we'll hear some of those in the future.
Release date: August 19th, 2005
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- MAGE (August 14th, 2005)
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