Sound — 8
Gus G. may not be a household name when it comes to the realm of rock guitar, but he might as well should be. Between his contributions as a member of Firewind and as the current lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Gus G. has asserted his abilities as not only a technical player capable of both composing and executing blistering solos, but also as a guitarist that has the ability to not overplay a section and shift back between lead arrangements and a concrete rhythm section.
While the Prince of Darkness has largely been committed to serving as the frontman for Black Sabbath since their inevitable and warmly appreciated reunion in 2011, Gus G. hasn't just been sitting on the sidelines aimless waiting for a phone call to head back into the studio for a new Ozzy record or venture back out for a world-spanning tour; during these past several years Gus G. has embarked on a solo career, having released the overall solid 2014 debut album "I Am the Fire" and even heading out on a number of dates in support of the record. While his activity as a member of Ozzy Osbourne's supporting band has spiked in activity recently, so has Gus G.'s career as a solo artist as the axeman has returned with his sophomore installment.
The recently released "Brand New Revolution" is a largely collaborative effort which shows Gus G. working alongside a number of respected names within the rock and metal pool of vocalists. Four different lead singers stake their claim on this record, with the most consistent being Jacob Bunton from Adler, the hard rock group helmed by former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler. The album begins with a whirlwind of guitar arrangements on the instrumental "The Quest," before the listener is unexpected launched into melodic hard rock territory with the album's title track, "Brand New Revolution." Strong vocal harmonies and compelling guitar work highlight this track's refrain, before eventually transitioning into a massive presentation of soloings from the guitarist of subject.
"Brand New Revolution" is as diverse as it is extensive, as we soon find out on "What Lies Below" featuring Amaranthe lead vocalist Elize Ryd. The power metal frontwoman shows off her chops on what instrumentally could pass for an outtake from Ozzy Osbourne's 2010 effort "Scream." The chorus does feature an nontraditional structure largely based around climbing scales from Gus G., while Ryd nails soaring high notes and emotional mid range bellows. Jeff Scott Soto of Journey fame steps into the fold for both "Gone to Stay" and "Generation G," and reinforces his distinctive brand of melodic hard rock which Gus G. seems more than willing to reinforce. Mats Leven of Yngwie Malmsteen and Candlemass opens up additional opportunities for the guitarist, which results in the symphonic metal themes of "If It Ends Today" and the slightly progressive "The Demon Inside"; the latter of which features choice picking arrangements that plays to the benefit of the track's brooding overtones.
Lyrics — 8
"Brand New Revolution" is about as close to an authentic solo album as one could get, and that's largely due to the credit of Gus G. whose decision to enlist the aid of a complete cast of lead vocalists to alternate throughout the record. This is a decision which could have just as easily led to the demise of the effort, and yet it pays off in the end result. Gus G. remains the center of attention throughout all twelve songs which appear on the album, and each aforementioned vocalist opens up new dimensions which Gus G. readily explores through multiple genres and techniques.
Overall Impression — 8
Gus G. does a remarkable job at stepping into the spotlight as a solo artist with his sophomore studio album, "Brand New Revolution." Although the revolving door of lead singers which appear on the record is rather impressive, the driving force behind each song is the compilation of extensive playing styles that is incorporated throughout. The end result is a diverse collection of compositions which serve as a testament to the abilities of an underrated talent within the guitar community.