Marco Sfogli – Theres Hope – 4/5
There will no doubt be many who won’t read more than the first couple of lines, so allow me to once again summarise this album in a single line. This is a guitarist who should be mentioned in the same breath as Satriani, Cooley, Vai and Becker. I first heard of him through his work with Magni Animi Viri, and then discovered his work in James LaBrie’s (Vocalist for Dream Theatre) solo project, before noticing his solo work.
It should be noted this is a musician who opposes the trend of simply playing quickly, believing that along the way emphasis on melody has been lost, and attempts to “make it very melodic with just the right amount of fire,” in his own words. In all honesty, I couldn’t agree more, with a recent rise in the popularity of speed over style (Dragonforce? Behold…the Arctopus?), this comes as a refreshing change. Not to imply that he unable to play quickly, quite the contrary in fact. The fluidity in legato is some of the best I’ve heard, it is simply not his focus.
The main problem with many instrumental albums is the problem of longevity. A single man playing a single instrument can often get old fairly quickly, but this is not the case here, successfully combining a multitude of styles each track lends something a little different. The southern country twang in ‘Texas BBQ,’ the smooth, satriani-esque riffs in ‘Still hurts,’ the more metal-like tones in ‘Theres Hope’ reminding me a little of Alejandro Silva, the bluesy ‘Spread the Disease’ or my personal favourite, the neo-classically toned ‘Andromeda’ the range of sounds he presents is phenomenal, and puts most full-sized bands to shame.
He at no points works totally alone, often using simple drums and keyboards for backing, occasionally intertwined with keyboard sections it comes across quite full, and rather polished and finished, as opposed to some instrumental albums. Worked in well, they clearly aren’t the focus, but succeed in fleshing out the sound in each track. This is the first in a new generation of guitar legends, the next Malmsteem or Satriani, and I hope to hear more from him sooner rather than later.
Highlights: Andromeda, There’s Hope, Spread the Disease, Texas BBQ
By T. Bawden