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Steve Vai - Passion And Warfare CD (album) cover


Steve Vai


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3.59 | 147 ratings

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4 stars The Biggest Shredder Album Ever

In the last few years, guitar shredding has had a resurgence, but the real peak time for this kind of music was in the late 80's and early 90's. There were numerous speedy gunslingers out at the time, and several were picked up by big bands only to find out they had a monster education in rhythm and musicality ahead of them (that means you Marty Friedman). Steve Vai, however, had already paid his dues at the feet of the most exacting master of them all, Frank Zappa. Between Zappa and Joe Satriani, Vai had perhaps the highest pedigree teaching of all time. The result was the most versatile virtuoso the heavy electric guitar may ever see.

PASSION AND WARFARE came out at the peak of the genre's popularity, was heavily promoted by the label, boasted a higher budget than any other shred album, and delivered the goods both musically and in popularity. Combining the quirkiness of Vai's debut (FLEX- ABLE) and his hard rock / metal shredding with David Lee Roth and Whitesnake, PASSION AND WARFARE more than satisfied the guitar freaks but was more musically interesting than any other album of its kind.

While rockers like "Erotic Nightmares" and "The Animal" grab immediate attention, it is the more complex composition on pieces like "The Riddle" that still resonate with me now, almost 20 years later. Here we see Vai's own eccentricity expanding beyond his two mentors (whose marks were all over the debut album). Taking Jimmy Page's guitar orchestra concept and bringing it forward in technique, technology, and musical complexity, we get a massive song far beyond the possibilities of young guitar slingers in their bedrooms. (Unlike "Surfing with the Alien" which many of us learned top to bottom.) The exception to this is the anthemic "For the Love of God," which seems to be clearly a conceived melody, apart from the instrument, that was subsequently expanded into a full piece with relatively straightforward accompaniment.

While the guitar technique on this album is about as high as it can get, and the harmonic structures are far from standard, the rhythm section is sometimes very straightforward, approaching drum machine sounds at times. The music is certainly progressive, though unlike anything else we call prog. Like many albums I review, this is a masterpiece at accomplishing what it sets out to do. That does not mean it's a masterpiece of prog. In that way, this feels like a 3 to 4 star album with reference to this site. I'll let my personal taste govern that small hair-splitting and bump it to a 4.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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