Figuring out what new to write for a review of another instrumental guitar submission is like Elizabeth Taylor's latest husband trying to discover something new to do on the wedding night. This is especially true when it comes to a guitar master like Joe Stump. His pedigree is amazing (eight solo albums, two bands, and metal guitar specialist at Berklee College of Music), his talent is immense, and his technique is practically flawless on this side of the new heavens and the new earth. Either Stump delivers or he doesn't on 'Virtuostic Vendetta,' and the simple answer is he does.
Stump admits his inspiration comes from his first two highly successful and fan favorite albums 'Guitar Dominance' and 'Supersonic Shred Machine.' So, in a sense, Stump is revisiting his past and this album pays tribute to the very legends that inspired him. Yet, 'Virtuostic Vendetta' also shows that he is at the top of his game and certainly not resting on his laurels.
Typically, this album is mostly about shear guitar dominance (to coin a phrase) where the fire and intensity of shred is front and center: Stump is vibrant, passionate, and pretty damn fast. For fans of the pure classical, 'Allegro #2 in A minor' and 'Symphonic Pandemonium' are hands down money winners. A strikingly rich piece reminiscent of Trower and Marino is 'Old School Throwdown,' one of the finest cuts. Before I even read the promo material or considered the song titles, I noticed a Blackmore theme within this disc, and I was right. 'Blackmore's Boogie' rings as true as fine cut crystal and making me wish for the early days of Rainbow. Two other favorites include heavy rocker 'Pistol Whipped' and the clever and stylish 'Strat Sorcery.' However, on the downside, Stump weighs us down with some frightfully tedious moments as on the lengthy shredfest 'The Witching Hour.'
In the end, however, Joe Stump's 'Virtuostic Vendetta' delivers a nearly immaculate work of guitar artistry and fireworks. In an age where the average American rock guitarist couldn't find a solo without it jumping up and biting them in the ass, it's good to know that Stump carries on (and passes on) the fine tradition of guitar virtuosity. Very recommended!
Joe Stump's 'Virtuostic Vendetta' delivers a nearly immaculate work of guitar artistry and fireworks. In an age where the average American rock guitarist couldn't find a solo without it jumping up and biting them in the ass, it's good to know that Stump carries on (and passes on) the fine tradition of guitar virtuosity.