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Stephan Forte
Enigma Opera Black
December 2014
Released: 2014, Zeta Nemesis
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

I don’t think it would be unreasonable to suggest that Stephan Forte is one of France’s best guitarists. From a nation that is not well know for it’s Metal let alone guitar heroes, Forte sets the bar very high. The guitarist of Adagio is back with his second solo album following 2011’s, THE SHADOWS COMPENDIUM.

ENIGMA OPERA BLACK opens with a ripping interpretation of a classic piece, instantly recognizable, but I’m afraid I don’t know the formal name of the piece. The instrumental neo-classical shred album contains a pair of shorter instrumental pieces (intro/outro) framing the album and there are seven other compositions resulting in a 46-minute album. Neo-classical metal is the basic foundation for the songs but Forte is not afraid to add significant amounts of keyboards and industrial textures. Not all of the album is fast, there are many interludes, changes in tone and tempo. Overall the compositions are quite dark, not too many shiny happy, speedy riffs, the whole album is dark and atmospheric. At times he drops in industrial, ambient, darkwave sounds on cuts like ‘Sector A: Undead’. In other songs, like the melodic semi-ballad ‘Pure’ is just straight up guitar playing, like something you might here on a Joe Satriani album. The album is not just a shred showcase the songs are strong and could lend themselves to having vocals despite being full sonic-scapes.

The album is loaded with guests as well although I will admit I am reviewing a promotional copy and his website does not list which guests are on which song but we do know that he has recruited some cool next-gen shredders from around the world Andy James (England), Marco Sfogli (Italy), Paul Wardinghham (Australia) and none other than Marty Friedman, who Forte has toured with.

ENIGMA OPERA BLACK is an immensely enjoyable, instrumental solo album. The cover is very well done; very nice to look at and the overall production is superb. It has taste, chops and character. I’d rank Forte’s playing way up there with Jeff Loomis, Mary Friedman, Jason Becker and other like-minded players. This is certainly one of my favourite instrumental albums of the year.
Track Listing

1. Short Virtuosity Etude
2. Enigma Opera Black
3. Zeta Nemesis
4. Sector A: UNDEAD
5. Pure
6. Entering Sigma Scorpii
7. Praying Lord Bhairava at the Foot of Mount Kailash
8. Suspended Tears Into Space
9. Peace


Stephan Forte-All instruments

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