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Michael Angelo Batio
Hands Without Shadows
Released: 2005, M.A.C.E. Music
Just about every metal guitarist knows at least something about Michael Angelo Batio. He is best known for his twin-necked, left and right-handed double-guitar which he both invented and was the first to play. This ambidextrous virtuoso is not just a one trick wonder however. He is arguably the fastest guitar player you’ll ever hear and when he wants to, can play some slow yet engaging leads. Non-guitar freaks might remember Michael from his stint with the outrageous band Nitro which seems to have garnered the band a sort of cult-like and legendary status.
Michael’s new album, HANDS WITHOUT SHADOWS, is not just another instrumental guitar album. This time around we get to hear Michael paying tribute to some of his favorite guitarists and bands with his interpretations of some of their most classic songs. The songs chosen were not originally instrumentals, and more often then not it’s not a straight cover of the song but a medley of the bands material. It’s interesting to hear how vocal lines are rendered for guitar. This goes without saying that the first thing noticed is the speed that this guy possesses. At times he is playing so fast it sounds inhuman! After you get past the wow factor of his playing, which is perhaps one of the things that first hooks people into checking out his playing, you’ll notice that there is substance beneath the flash. This substance is laid out on one of the album’s two original songs, the title track “Hands Without Shadows”. After several listens, this track has easily become my favorite on the disc. It’s not all shred, it’s well-structured, melodic, and builds up nicely. On my fist couple of listens the song that grabbed me was “Tribute To Randy” which is “Crazy Train” and then the solo section from “Mr. Crowley”. Michael totally nails the lead parts, adding to them with some of his own flavor while maintaining the feel and main melody from the original. What adds to the coolness factor of this track is that the bass player from BLIZZARD OF OZ, the legendary Rudy Sarzo, plays bass for this song! Some of the songs that didn’t do so much for me are not a result of the playing, but just personal preferance. For example, why Michael covers a black-album Metallica song (over something from RtL or MoP) or why he covers an Aerosmith song over (for example) a song from Yngwie Malmsteen or Eddie Van Halen, is baffling but is understandable considering the album wasn’t tailor made or my own tastes.
HANDS WITHOUT SHADOWS and Michael Angelo should be taken for the serious musician that he is. It’s not all about the 4-necked guitars (which are used only in live situations) and shredding....it’s about shredding with finesse accompanied by well written material and interesting rhythms. It’s not that often that an instrumental guitar album piques my interest and HANDS WITHOUT SHADOWS is one of the few that in recent years has done just that. For an in depth look at the CD from Michael’s point of view head to his official site at http://www.angelo.com/hands_without_shadows.html
1. Burn (Deep Purple cover)
2. Tribute To Randy
3. Zeppelin Forever
4. Hands Without Shadows
5. Wherever I May Roam (Metallica cover)
6. Dream On (Aerosmith cover)
7. Pray On, Prey
8. All Along The Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix cover)
Michael Angelo Batio - guitars
Bobby Rock - drums
William Kopecky - bass
Mark Tremonti (of Alter Bridge and Creed), Rudy Sarzo (of Ozzy, Whitesnake and Quiet Riot), Doug Marks, (founder of Metal Method), virtuoso guitarist Bill Peck and more.
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