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Kelly Simonz’s Blind Faith
Sign of the Times
July 2002
Released: 2002, Lion Music
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Rick

From the land of the rising sun we have the newest answer to Yngwie Malmsteen.. He is Kelly Simonz and he has released 2 Cds in Japan. The first is SIGN OF THE TIMES (1998) and SILENT SCREAM (1999). Kelly started playing guitar at the age of 14 and a year later he was playing in bands covering tunes from his favourite guitarists, Yngwie Malmsteen and Akira Takasaki. A short 2 years later his band opened for Loudness at Kobe Bunka Hall. Kelly then spent some time in the U.S. as a session musician but returned to Japan and started his solo career.

Sign of the Times is Simonz’s first solo disc and is finally seeing the light of day outside Japan. On this release he plays all instruments and sings. I have to admit that he is a pretty good singer. The CD is a mixture of vocals and instrumental tracks with the split being 6 of the former and 5 of the latter. Of the vocal tracks “Eternal Flame” kicks off the disc with a neoclassical shredding romp where Simonz shows off all his talents. His vocals are good if not great and he can sure shred. For those interested in neoclassical shred in the vein of Malmsteen, Joe stump or Narnia Simonz delivers. “Blind Faith” is one of the best songs on the CD as Simonz tones down the shredding and plays it a little more straight forward. Its made even better because he closes out the disc with a live version that is every bit the equal of the studio cut and even surpasses it in the aggression department. The other half of the disc is instrumental. They range from the acoustic gem “Solitude” to the electrified title track along with the excellent classical piece “Suite in B Minor BWV1067".

Simonz is definitely one awesome guitar player. SIGN OF THE TIMES is truly a solo CD in that he plays everything. His name is on the line and he comes through. As a guitarist he is excellent. Unfortunately he wears his influences on his sleeve. Malmsteen is stamped all over his work. With his talents it would have been nice to see him create a bit fo his own identity but I’m sure that will come about with time. If you like neoclassical shredding metal madness then check Kelly out
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