Released: 2002, Lion Music
Now here’s a guy I haven’t heard a lot from since the late 80’s / early 90’s!! This CD, VIOLENT MACHINE, along with a live album entitled LIVE INSANITY, have been both re-released by Lion Music. Both albums have been hard to find, even for die-hard MacAlpine fans! The album reviewed here, VIOLENT MACHINE, was recorded in 1996 and features drummer Mike Terrana (Yngwie Malmsteen, Rage), bass player Kevin Chown, and of course Tony MacAlpine on guitar and keyboards.
If you are familiar with Tony MacAlpine’s work and you love what he’s done in the past, you don’t need to read my thoughts on this album…just buy it! You won’t regret it! If you are not too familiar with MacAlpine, then read on! First let me tell you that this is an instrumental CD and Mr. MacAlpine is quite the accomplished guitarist. He is up there with the likes of Joe Satraini, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and Vinnie Moore. In places on this CD you can hear bits of Satch (the title track, “Violent Machine” sounds a small bit like a mix of Satch with Vai), bits of Malmsteen/neo-classical, the fusion styled sounds of Vinnie Moore and a great sense of melody and a strong song structure that is very important for a CD without vocals. That can be a BIG barrier for some listeners. If the album has no vocals at all, some shy away from it. At times I am like that as well, but there are a number of these all-instrumental albums that make you forget that there are no vocals. VIOLET MACHINE succeeds in that regard for me. I listened to this about 5 times in one evening just on repeat over and over. It didn’t get boring at all and actually held my attention from beginning to end…well there is one non-guitar track on here that stands out, and I have to be in the mood for it to hear it. That is the piano piece “Chopin Etude #12 Opus 10.” Of course this is not written by MacAlpine, but is a classical masterpiece from Chopin! This one really shows that Tony is also a gifted pianist as well being a master of the guitar. The track “Unfortunate Lazarus” has some nice drumming by Mike Terrana and is an upbeat hard rocking showcase for Tony’s keyboard and guitar skills. Some jazz-fusion sounds find their way into this one, even though it’s quite the heavy track. Also on the heavy side of the spectrum, and another of the stand out tracks for me, is “Mr. Destructive” which begins with a very heavy crushing riff (that should have been used more!) before picking up. The drum beat here, although simple sounding, is very cool. Things kind of float along in the track “Caroline Blue” which is only saved by the great lead playing. The CD closes off with a catchy track entitled “Space Ritual.”
If you love melodic, tasteful lead guitar playing, treat yourself to the fine guitar playing of Tony MacAlpine. This is not mindless guitar wanking or shredding (although he CAN shred it up when he wants to!). VIOLENT MACHINE is a hidden gem in the instrumental guitar realm, from a guitar player who has unfortunately been often overlooked.
Official Website: http://www.tonymacalpine.com/