Released: 2014, Shredguy Records
Shredguy Records have been doing some good things lately. I’m always delighted when new young labels dedicated to shred and guitar in general get established. There are a few of the 25 year + veteran guitar/instrumental labels (Shrapnel, Leviathan, Lion etc) but is always good to have fresh meat for the grinder. One of their newest releases is the Knapp/Johansson split album UNBORN SPIRITS IMMORTAL.
Starting with possibly the lesser known of the two musicians, the Chicago area Markus Johansson has been around for a few years with a band called Sylencer. In an odd move he recently joined the Australian power/Thrash band, 4Arm. Even though Knapp is listed first I get the sense that Markus spearheaded this as the album is named after one of his songs and he did some of the technical work, mastering and so on. Toby Knapp is perhaps better known for his stint in Onward and any number of various projects, such as Forced Religion, Waxen and a long solo career.
Each member wrote three songs and each guy appeared as a guest soloist on the others songs. For the truly die-hard musicians out there they have thankfully provided a solo key in the loner notes so you know who is playing what. It is a good move. The package itself is low key and low budget. It has a blurry cover, there is not too much to it but the booklet is satisfactory.
Blistering shred is the order of the day! Both guys have a need for speed and feel for the steel. Every songs three, four, five solos on it! Each simple track is a delivery platform for amazing soloing, each man a master of the craft. UNBORN SPIRITS IMMORTAL keeps up the long-standing tradition of weird song titles for instrumental pieces.
I find a real purity in these types of albums. Shredders make no bones bout being ‘artistic’ or ‘writing songs’ or any of that crap. It is about being technically proficient, being faster than the next guy and trying to be the king of the mountain and I admire that drive to be excessive. One of the hallmarks of good Metal is not compromising and being faster and louder than everything else. Knapp and Johansson have mastered their craft!