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Steve Vai - Real Illusions: Reflections CD (album) cover


Steve Vai


Prog Related

3.84 | 93 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Glorious.

Ah Steve Vai... The wizard of the frets, the master of the shreds. After leaving Whitesnake (of all things) Vai managed to make himself a very successful solo career, and also profited very well off of high schoolers who would fight each other to the death over who was superior, Joe Satriani or Steve Vai. Always a Satch fan over a Vai fan any day, this reviewer always more or less had it out for the Vai. Never denying the fact that the man could shred something fierce; there was always something that Satch had that Vai just... didn't. Now, while it's common knowledge that Satch was Vai's guitar teacher way back in the day, the two have a very very different style of playing, even if they play a similar style of music. Really, comparing them is like comparing Jackie Chan to Jet Li, one is simply a young, evil version of the other. Where is this all going, you might ask? Well, really, what I'm getting around to is that this is the album where it all comes together for me. Everything that Vai does well really clicks, and this album gets just as much play as many of my Satch albums.


Blistering, melodic instrumentals paired with emotional ''songs'' make this album something truly unique in the Vai catalog. ''But By-Tor!!'' You may protest, ''That's what Vai has always done!''. Well, yes, but this is the first time that it all actually seems to work. This is the album where everything feels... real... honest... sincere. Sharp contrasts between fast, fun songs and dark, brooding songs make an excellent listen on this album. While this is one of those albums that really won't benefit from my going into it track by track, I can still point out a few standouts. Building The Church opens the album with a keyboard blast followed by some dark guitar while Dying For Your Love proves that Vai is still really good at writing brooding rock songs. Likely the best of it's type since 'Genocide' from his Fire Garden album. Firewall is the kind of song hat is pure fun to sing along to, especially that opening bit (don't ask me how many times I've embarrassed myself doing that... my friends and I could all do it in sync on cue back in high school). Lotus Feet is a beautiful song that really shows Vai as a great composer along with the excellent Under It All... the mini-epic that ends the album.

There's some filler here, and a little bit of weirdness, case in point - Yai Yai... my advice... sing along to it?

Along with the tracks already mentioned, the rest of the songs on the album are all very very well composed and played, and each one a construct of it's own grandeur with all their own atmospheres and charms.

Such good things to say about it, why not 5 stars? Well, while it may be Vai's masterpiece (IMO), its not a progressive masterpiece. Almost pure prog in many parts, this is an album that really deserves the (very literal) title of prog related. Definitely and album for prog heads to invest some time in, and really the only Steve Vai album worth your time if you're not a fan of his. Great for anyone who loves guitar or anyone who just wants a solid album. 4 stars, very excellent addition to any music collection.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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