Bret’s Ramblings presents Marty Friedman Reissues

Loudspeaker, Future Addict and Bad D.N.A. Reissues by Marty Friedman (Prosthetic Records)

Guitarist and vocalist Marty Friedman was a member of Megadeth from 1990 to 2000 performing on the albums Rust In Peace, Countdown to Extinction, Youthanasia, Cryptic Writings and Risk.  During his tenure the band received Grammy Awards, were at the top of the charts and they toured the world many times over. Yet even during that busy time Friedman released four solo albums.  Friedman started out in such bands as Duece and Hawaii, leaving Cacophony in 1989 to join Megadeth.

Prosthetic Records is releasing three of Marty Friedman’s solo works in the United States, two for the first time.

Loudspeaker was originally released by Shrapnel Records in the United States in 2007.  Elixir opens the album, attacking your eardrums from the start with it’s heavy metal sound.  Featuring the bass talents of Billy Sheehan, the song veers towards a few more melodic parts with two crunchy breakdowns but is otherwise an instrumental metal masterpiece.  Street Demon follows, with a Ramones feel here, a hard rock solo there, melodic riffs thrown around until your nodding along vigorously.  On Black Orchid Dream Theater’s John Petrucci joins in on guitar for a punk/thrash song with killer hooks and intense six-string interplay. Glycerine Flesh has an almost country feel, light acoustic guitar and high, clean electric leads.  Obvious hero and influence Steve Vai wails all over Viper, leading the listener to just soak in the glorious genius of Vai and Friedman as they play off of each other and synch up in a dance of glorious colors and cries.

All in all, Loudspeaker is an exciting ride through metal and hard rock, showcasing Friedman and friends’ talents, and is a fun listen.

Future Addict, is an introduction to Friedman’s work up until that time, including three new songs.  After a weird little introduction called Barbie rocks out in earnest with new song Simple Mystery, blending emo-pop, screamo and metal grind with Friedman’s varied vocal approaches and wailing guitar solos tying all the threads together.  After that pop-metal fireworks show the next song sounds somewhat familiar.  Its rather driving, chugging, silver-metallic, Friedman singing in a tightly clenched vocal… Tornado of Souls (!) damn, this is rocking!  Yes, a Megadeth song, but here Friedman ably transforms the song into his own, sings like he means it and plays the guitar parts, drawing blood and fire on every part.  After that stunning cover, Friedman doesn’t let up, following with pounding tom drums and a chugging guitar assault on Burn The Ground.  There’s plenty going on in this song: downtuned chugs, massive drums, screaming vocals, melodic and dramatic solos, solos and more guitars and chants of “let it burn, burn, burn! Burn to the ground!”  Where My Fortune Lies is a solid and catchy number that shows Friedman still has his ear for radio-friendly arrangements and you begin to get the impression that without him Megadeth might not have reached quite as high as they did in the 90’s.  Another Mega song gets redone to exciting effect in Breadline.  Friedman takes the essential melody of the much slower original and reworks the whole thing into what sounds like Cheap Trick on steroids, making his version a whole lot more fun.

The latest album from Marty Friedman is Bad D.N.A. from 2010.  From the opening techno thump of Specimen you might wish you’d saved your dollars.  But give the tunes a chance and Marty might surprise you.  Just focus on the guitars, let them wind you up and soon you’ll almost forget about the computerized drums and backing on the album.  The title track has some fine synchronized guitar solos but keeps coming up with a melodic theme that should be played at the start of  some over-caffienated cartoon show.  Weapons of Ecstasy sounds like something Lords of Acid or KMDM would have done over a decade ago, but is still kinda rocking and fun.  Hatejoke has some of the most mind-bending and finger-shredding guitars on the album, but is otherwise tough to listen to.  Glorious Accident is the most headbanging song of the bunch, with crunching and distorted guitars and pounding drums,  making the listener wish for more.  Random Star satisfies as epic heavy metal, showcasing Friedman’s skills in intricate detail as well as in swelling strings and melodies.  Exorcism Parade is the diamond of Bad D.N.A.: the song opens with a subdued circle before a juggernaut chugging riff jumps in and tackles you.  Guitars wail and pile on top of each other, fighting for supremacy, reaching for the sky before getting knocked down by the next intense riff and the next and so on until you’re just dazed.

Thanks to Prosthetic Records for bring to the States these three albums from Marty Friedman.  He shows his talents and that he can still bend strings with the best of them.

(Review by Bret Miller)

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