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Released: 2003, Lion Music
Before we get to the music, let’s look at who Marcel Coenen is. To highlight a few interesting points from his bio: Dutch guitarist Marcel Coenen was born in 1972 and began playing guitar at age 11. His first real band was a thrash metal band called “Speedica” (no doubt derived from Metallica) which later was renamed to “Form”. In 1996 he started the band Lemur Voice and did two albums with them before the band broke up. After that he formed the band “Sun Caged” of which he is still a member. GUITAR TALK is Marcel’s first solo album and is available on Lion Music (Shrapnel Jr? hehe).
Although I am a fan of lots of guitar solos and many shredders, I’ve never been a total freak of 100% instrumental albums. For an instrumental to really click with me it needs a full band - a real drummer, a real bassist, and of course ripping guitars. Obviously, Marcel’s guitars on this album are all “real” but the drums, bass and keys are all programmed using a Boss DR-5 drum machine. That’s a strike against the album in my books, especially because I could tell the drums were fake without even reading the liner notes. The overall sound of this album is decent though. Another “must have” for an instrumental album to succeed is songs. By that I do NOT mean a few key changes buried in the background so on top you can crank the leads and rip it up for 3-5 mins. A good song needs some form discernable structure and not just an excuse for shredding. Joe Satriani is one example of the very few who have pulled this off properly, especially on the album SURFING WITH THE ALIEN. Joe Satriani, Tony McAlpine, Steve Vai, Racer X, Marty Friedman, and Jason Becker are clearly some of Marcel’s influences.
GUITAR TALK contains 12 songs beginning with “Independence Day” which shows a Meshuggah influence with its weird timing intro riff. One of the better tracks on the album follows this up and that is “Race Against Time”. It starts out similar to "Chainbreaker" by Primal Fear. Unlike some of the other material on the album, this one sounds more like a real song instead of just an excuse to play lead guitar. This is also the most "metal" track on here by far. According to the liner notes that was his goal and he has clearly succeeded! Some of Marcel’s more soulful playing can be found on “Inner Alchemy” which is a slow song. The bleeding lead guitar carries it along with the backing music being just an afterthought. “Fusion” which is jazzy, funky....yucky...except for the solos and the godly ripping intro! It's the leads that save this one since the backing music is just way too faggy. The best song is the fifth track on the album and is entitled “Rebel”. This would sound great with a real drummer. There is plenty of speedy/notey riffing going on in this one. Fans of Jason Becker / Marty Friedman's shred work will dig this like a grave digs zombies! “The Wet Season” provides us with a different guitar tone; it seems more single coil pickup sounding. A bit laid back, but still decent for the sake of the lead guitars. “Endless” is the last track on GUITAR TALK. It sounds like it could make for movie/tv theme music. This was a nice change of pace from the rest of the CD and is actually a cool closer for the album.
Some other moments on the album are not as memorable. For example “Fairy Tale” is perhaps the low point of the album. It’s a slow song with very boring backing music...even the leads seem to noodle around taking the song nowhere. Another of the less interesting tracks is “Anthem” which is Marcel’s take on the Dutch national anthem. It starts with ear piercing guitar sounds...ugh! Listen for some very FAST sweeps later in “Anthem”! “Shoreline” has a detuned groove riff with some "Wylde" squeals. The promise of the intro is not lived up to in the song though. The part from 2:30 to 3min (the closing of the song) gets heavier.... there needs to more of this! Then there is “Moya” or "Always With Me Always with Moya Part 999" which is not awful, but it’s not what I'm into. “Move That Groove” illustrates why the “fake” bassist approach can ruin a song. Someone please kill the "bassist in a box" on here. In a few places it hits on the same note for too long...driving me mad! As always, nice leads...check the 2:45-3:05 section for a neat clean guitar part that really caught my ear!
Marcel Coenen is a great guitarist, there is no question of that. GUITAR TALK would have been rated higher if it had been more metal, and if it had more material like “Race Against Time” and “Rebel”. If you are a fan of instrumental guitar albums, then you will enjoy Marcel’s playing. Even some of the songs on here that didn’t grab me still had some cool guitar parts in it that fans of shredding might like. If you need to have vocals, then check out Marcel in prog-metal mode with his band Sun Caged.
- Independence Day
- Race Against Time
- Inner Alchemy
- Fairy Tale
- The Wet Season
- Move That Groove
Marcel Coenen - guitars, etc.
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