Reviewed: April 2003
Released: 2003, Leviathan Records
In my early days as a reviewer for Metal-Rules.com I wasn’t a huge fan of instrumental guitar albums. They always seemed to be full of unstructured guitar solos that only served to show off the chops of the performer and not necessarily his skills as a songwriter. After receiving many guitar instrumental discs to review I realized that not only was the genre alive and well and churning out a load of material, there were actually many guitar instrumental releases by artists that could create a song and convey a message without ever singing a word. One of those artists is Michael Harris. He is one of the few artists who can weave a tapestry of sonic delight with only his six string to lead the way. Michael Harris was born into a musical family and discovered the guitar when he was 14 years old. He lists his influences as, among others, Robin Trower, Ritchie Blackmore, Uli John Roth and Frank Marino. His first success came as a member of Arch Rival who released 2 EPs and 3 full length CDs. He has also joined forces with David Chastain in Zanister who have released two CDs called SYMPHONICA MILLENNIA and FEAR NO MAN.
HURRICAN X IS Harris’ 5 solo releases and was originally recorded as part of the Diginet Music Guitar Masters series but it was felt that it needed to reach a larger audience so it was launched as a full fledged commercial release. The Diginet series provides a number of different guitar players with the same bass and drums tracks to which they then add to with their own unique guitar parts. Joining Harris on the disc is Mike Haid on drums and David Chastain on bass. The 8 tracks on the disc are a varied bunch including everything from jazzy romps to blues influenced tear jerkers with a bit a shred thrown in here and there for good measure. “Prisoner of Time” is a slow almost epic track that see Harris go for feeling over shred which works to dazzling effect as he sets a high standard early on the CD. “Day of Doom” slows things down even further as Harris plays with a much less fluidic approach. Again this son is more about feeling opposed to out and out shredding ability. Harris stretches his wings on the title track as he opts for more jazz oriented approach. This is definitely a different sound compared to his work in Zanister and shows why he is considered one of the best guitarists today. The closer “Destination” is the most shred-oriented song of the bunch. The song is highlighted by harmonic runs, hybrid picking and ghost bends which make this the most atmospheric and “heavy” track on the disc.
HURRICANE X is a more subdued disc than what I expected from Michael Harris. His band Zanister is much more in your face metal while his other solo works, what I have heard anyway, are more aggressive than this CD. But the whole exercise is not one in aggressiveness. It is in talent and playing ability. Harris more than measures up to the task at hand. The Diginet Music Guitar Masters series puts a new twist on the solo guitar instrumental CD. The backing music is already created and the artists must find a way to make his songs fit that already constructed backdrop. Michael Harris rises to the challenge and delivers a disc of engaging instrumental guitar.
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