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Marty Friedman - Dragon's Kiss  CD (album) cover


Marty Friedman

Progressive Metal

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4 stars I've been kissed...

The album kicks things off with a thunderous drum dance. And we are treated to some heavy and outstanding riffing. The lead guitar lines are powerful and entrancing. The solos are furious and heavy in their reliance on exotic scale hopping. there are cacophonous moments, highly melodic slashing, and that tasty 80's sound.

This is a standard high quality instrumental metal album released form an absolute gem of a guitarist, Marty Friedman. Where he would go on to do much less in this vein in lieu of more experimental and atmospheric affairs. Here, his goal is to roast you alive with virtuoso playing. There are those who would say this music has no soul, but he put a lot of effort into this, and the compositions can be quite strong. There are multiple song segments, and awe inspiring shred fests.

The breathtaking riff that begins the title track is majestic whilst he bursts out with a visceral choral guitar wail that seems as if the machine is crying out in passionate pain. Then I must mention the eastern twinged break near the end of the song. There isn't very much diversity on this disc, however. It doesn't rely on solo's disguised as songs, either. There are real movements, and song structuring. That is also not to say he ventures too far form the standard shred album fare. This keeps the album form being brilliant. Evil thrill has a slow and plodding Black Sabbath style strut with some extra metallic bite, and Black Sabbath were never this violently melodic. I should also say that the drumming is moderately good, but by no means veteran playing. Namida is the main diversion on the record. It feels like an almost psychedelic romp. This is the greatest telling of what would come in the future of Friedman releases in the likes of Introduction or Scenes. Atmospheric and charming, with a soft scale run planted in that doesn't seem to overdo anything. Great, if a little mundane.

Anvils returns to that ferocious storming Megadeth style raging metal. Crunching riffing, and wailing melodic flights of fancy. This is as over the top as instrumental metal can get, in a grand way. The melodies are strong, the playing is incredible, and he never solos for far too long like some other guitarists I won't mention. He also doesn't shy away from thick classic metal power playing. Jewel is a synthesizer touched faint ballad of sorts, and has an exquisitely pretty main melody. None of the songs are extremely complex, but they do have their progressive moments, and it is highly technical.

The album's "epic" Forbidden City is absolutely splendid. Multiple fleshed out facets, and an ear for estranged melodies that weave themselves into and out of your ear. An album highlight, going from furious stomping grounds to fiery soloing, and thick screeching guitars. The record ends with Thunder March. It has such a quality and solid melody. True, Marty has given us a lot of brilliant melodies. They are always up front and easy to consume, while giving the listener a chance to dig deeper, as well.

So, there are countless powerful melodies here, and the playing is first rate. The diversity takes several hits, and the compositions can be simple, at times, but the songs themselves stand up remarkably well. A brilliant and harmonious debut effort from a very skilled guitarist.

Best Song - Forbidden City overall, but Dragon Mistress and Thunder March have the most powerful melodies.

Worst Song - Perhaps Jewel for the lack of diversity, but nothing here is overtly bad.

**** Shredding Stars.

Report this review (#213214)
Posted Friday, May 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars MARTY FRIEDMAN may be best known for his decade long stint as lead guitarist for Megadeth churning out metal masterpieces like "Rust In Piece" but it was this album that Dave Mustaine heard that convinced him to hire MARTY to fill that roll. His debut solo album DRAGON'S KISS has been a favorite shredding classic for a long time now. After the two album duration in Cacophony with fellow neoclassical shredder Jason Becker, MARTY FRIEDMAN released his own thunderous roar of a shredder's manifesto. This is an all instrumental affair with MARTY handling all guitars, bass and production. Jason Becker makes a cameo on three tracks and Deen Castronovo from Cacophony handles drumming duties. This is an early Shrapnel Records release and like most of them from the era the production is utter crap.

This is an album for lovers of virtuoso musicianship. MARTY FRIEDMAN remains one of the finest guitarists in all of rock history but on this debut album he displays his sweeping arpeggios, exotic scales, masterful picking and progressive time signatures with a sense of flair and bravado unmatched on his following solo releases. MARTY is all about worshiping the melody and nails it on every move here. Although he can shred like nobody's business, it's his calculated discretion as to when to do so and when to let the note wail milking every conceivable possibility for its use. The music here is thunderous traditional 80s metal with speed ladened licks running up and down the scales shifting moods and tempos in a flash but also contains fair amounts of laid back slow building crescendo inducing scales and chord changes. Every little note is well placed and the aim of this music is to create a pleasing emotional response while simultaneously blowing your mind technically speaking.

DRAGON'S KISS is simply put a brilliant masterpiece of instrumental music that works in every possible way. Melodically, energetically, exotic flair etc. I am so tempted to give this 5 stars because MARTY's guitar playing and songwriting are of that caliber however the production is just awful and MARTY's bass playing skills don't match his guitar talents. A very close call but these flaws really keep this album in the 4 star range. If you are thrilled by faster-than-the-speed-of-light guitar wizardry that worships the melody then this is a mandatory addition to any guitar freaks collection where melody rich metal will melt your soul with every sweeping picking frenzy. Every track on here is outstanding but I still have a few faves. One of my absolute favorite instrumental musical pieces ever is the mind-blowing "Forbidden City" followed by "Evil Thrill," the beautiful "Narada" and "Jewel."

Report this review (#1273146)
Posted Monday, September 8, 2014 | Review Permalink

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