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John Petrucci - Suspended Animation CD (album) cover


John Petrucci


Progressive Metal

3.07 | 155 ratings

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3 stars Masterful John shines, but leaves the listener a bit lonely

John Petrucci has often been accused of being technically superb but lacking soul in his music. Therefore many reviewers I've spoken with complain that they find his playing style simply unbearable in comparison with great metal/jazz rock/fusion guitarists (such as Petrucci's own idol Shawn Lane) or even Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Paul Gilbert. As I always argue, that is not necessarily so - as Devin Townsend's insane riffs could be interpreted as smothering or as empowering - it's rather a matter of taste.

In a recent video Petrucci confesses that alternate picking is probably his strongest ability as a guitar player. In that, I must say, he is truly masterful and that is exactly what you should expect from Suspended Animation album.

Sound and impressions

I've followed Petrucci's artistic path since 2003 and I must say, Suspended Animation is distinctively different from his main project Dream Theater (whose Octavarium album was oddly recorded at the same time) or even some side projects like Liquid Tension Experiment and, of course, collaborations with Jordan Rudess. Two of the songs have been featured on G3's Live in Tokyo album, though.

As a fully instrumental release, John composes and plays all guitar parts himself, which gives him the opportunity to really excel in a play style that had so far been incompatible with Dream Theater. His uplifting speed-riffs and powerful soloing in so many registers creates an album that is a combination of prog metal and fusion with hints of jazz, blues, and rock' n roll. Nevertheless, it has some immortal tracks, like Jaws of Life, Glasgow Kiss, Tunnel Vision and Wishful Thinking.

The undeniable upside of this album is that John expresses himself musically without having to limit his play to fit in a band's concept of an album which often happened under the hard-handed leadership of Mike Portnoy. Ironically, this is also the downside, because using drummer and bass player simply as fillers makes the album lack versatility and offers less listening experience than regular DT or Liquid albums.

In that sense I found myself amazed how similar Perucci's 2005 album Suspended Animation and Paul Gilbert's 2010 Fuzz Universe really are. The question is, though, which one has more character?

Very solid 3 stars.
Oliverum | 3/5 |


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