Released: 2012, Lion Music
* A love-letter to Shred.*
Joe Stump is pretty much my favourite shredder. I love Yngwie but I see him as a more well-rounded player, performer and personality than Joe who is just the king of shred. Really. REVENGE OF THE SHREDLORD is Joe Stumps 12th full-length studio album. That makes him one of the most prolific, instrumental artists in the Metal realm. That’s more original, instrumental solo albums than Steve Vai, Marty Friedman, Michael Batio, Shawn Lane, Chris Impellitteri, John 5, Jason Becker, Lars Eric Mattsson, but not quite as many as Satriani or Malmsteen, and of course not even close to Buckethead who is somewhere up in the 40 album range. I wanna meet the guy who has all 40 Buckethead albums. REVENGE is Joe's third album on the Lion label and it is a perfect fit and yet Joe doesn't get the media coverage or respect in the guitar community (in my opinion) that he deserves.
As a non-guitar player, with no musical education and limited musical vocabulary I find describing an instrumental solo album quite hard. I don’t really know what vibrato and legato are or what an arpeggio is or what sweep picking is so it is hard to explain. What is not hard to explain is the feeling of excitement, the adrenaline rush when I hear Joe play. I’ve heard many musicians denigrate the shredders as ‘non-musical’ or ‘they can’t write songs’, or it’s just ‘showing off’ or the inevitable, petty, little insult of ‘wanking’ with the negative implication and reference to masturbation, but to me all those comments are born of jealousy because those people do not have the skill to play at that level. Some artists go as far as to say, “I don’t have to play that fast because I play with ‘feel’ whatever the hell ‘feel’ is supposed to mean, like there is some dictionary definition of ‘feel’! To me that sounds like a comment from the loser in the 100M dash who comes in second but complains after the race that his running style is better than the guy who won. The closet definition I can articulate for this vague, subjective notion of ‘feel’ is that, feel equals slow.
To me the bottom line is when I hear an album like REVENGE OF THE SHREDLORD it has way more ‘feel’ (to my ears) than some wrinkled, old, blues-dude who bends a note but in reality can’t play his way our of a wet paper bag. Some critics say music isn’t a competition, but in Metal it is. Always has been. Always will be. It’s always been about who is faster, louder, meaner, sicker, more dangerous, who can sing higher, who can do more groupies, snort more drugs, drink more, who has the longest hair, the biggest spikes, the biggest amps (Man, they blast!) who can drum faster and of course who is the fastest guitarist. It is an objective measurement of skill. ie. 'I can play faster than you and I can prove it scientifically'. And people love it. Absolutely love it. That’s why every single year every guitar magazine on the planet has some ‘World’s Best’ list or ‘Fastest’ list or ‘Top Shredder’ list or something like that. Despite the cynics and critics, guys like Joe Stump will always continue to delight and entertaining fans like me for the pure visceral thrill of seeing a master of his chosen art. That is why people watch the Olympics, enjoy spectacular special 3-D effects at the movies, ride the biggest rollercoaster and listen to shred albums. The thrill.
This why I think Joe is King. I find the speed, the energy the intensity thrilling and uber-exciting to listen to. I want it fast. I want more notes, not less. I want it to sound busy, cluttered and like all the notes are going to spill over the edge. I like to hear a million little fiery notes dancing across the fretboard! In all honesty, the new album has very little to distinguish itself from his previous 11 records because he has maintained his high standard of performance and production for 20 years. The album standard for his signature style; about an hour long, a dozen songs, a picture of Joe holding his guitar on the front, cool song titles about ‘beasts’, and ‘knights’ and the obligatory guitar based pun like ‘Strat Outa Hell’ …get it? Strat (as in Stratocaster) instead of ‘Straight Out Of Hell? Brilliant. Why in 30 years of instrumental shred albums did no one come up with that title before? To me the highlights are ‘White Knuckle Mayhem’ and the opening salvo of ‘Man Your Battlestations’. I mean, c’mon, with a title like that, what other type of song could it possibly be except fast? It ain’t a ballad I can tell you that much!
The other day I read a review of one of the current crop of hipster Metal albums (the new Bison BC I think) and the reviewer said, ‘This is a great driving album’ as in driving and listening to music obviously. And I thought to myself, ‘Your minivan must be parked in the handicapped stall outside the retirement home if you think that’s piece of sonic sludge is a good driving album!’ When it comes to shred albums it is all about the need for speed and the feel for the steel and REVENGE OF THE SHREDLORD is another jewel in the crown of Joe Stump.