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Steve Vai - Vai: Sex & Religion CD (album) cover


Steve Vai


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3.17 | 102 ratings

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3 stars This was the second CD of Steve Vai I got and after "Passion & Warfare" my expectations were quite high. Unfortunately this time Vai didn't win me. Let me tell you why.

"An Earth Dweller's Return" leads into the album like an erupting volcano, something Van Halen had done before on their debut album, even called it "Eruption" - and got away with it much better. Anyway, on "Sex & Religion" the sound and mood is set for "Here & Now", an up-tempo rocker with heavy guitars and without anybody telling you can guess that Vai meant this album to be played loud. "In My Dreams With You" steps on the breaks a bit, slowing down the drive with the drum pattern Terry Bozzio lays out, Vai only shortly taking the lead with his solo. "Still My Bleeding Heart" presents Vai on acoustic and electric guitars and up until then Devin Townsend is quite good as lead singer, which unfortunately changes on the title track "Sex & Religion": The piece is allright for the first few minutes, but after the first guitar solo Townsend seems to have forgotten his vocal abilities and hurts the ears with his screaming, which he continues in "Dirty Black Hole". Mind you, I think that Devin is a good singer, so why does he ruin those numbers in that way?

"Touching Tongues" is a quieter number, an instrumental, in which Vai plays a duet with himself on guitar and - if I'm not mistaken - on a synthesizer. Townsend joins him for a while producing some undistinguishable sounds. "State Of Grace" is an indian influenced instrumental and Vai plays a guitar that is tuned to sound like a sitar - an interesting effect. "Survive" gives T.M. Stevens the opportunity to show his qualities in playing "slapping" bass-lines whereas Devin goes back to singing - the track is about 1 minute too long for my liking.

And after that Vai makes it really difficult to follow. "Pig", co-written by Townsend, has tendencies of free heavy metal, as I would like to call it ("free" as in "free jazz"). The piece obviously is meant to show the despair of a slaughtered pig, but Vai utterly fails here. "The Road To Mt. Calvary" is just a mixture of industrial noises which - supposedly - can be understood when you read the text Vai has written to accompany the piece - I'm lost at that point, I have to admit. It leads to "Down Deep In Pain" with the title suiting me fine, because that's where I have arrived by now. Especially in the second half of the piece I have the nauseating feeling that Vai felt inspired by Frank Zappa to write this song, only that Zappa would have done much better.

In the closing piece "Rescue Me Or Bury Me" Vai picks up the acoustic guitar again and adds some synthesized strings. Townsends seems to have recovered from whatever it was that ailed him before and starts singing again. Two and a half minutes into the song the electric guitar sets in and we can listen to about 4 minutes of improvisation. To me it's not very inspiring, I find it mostly boring.

Steve Vai is - IMHO - one of the finest guitarists you can find. But unfortunately it seems that his qualities are more those of an inspired musician and not so much those of a good composer.

Guzzman | 3/5 |


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