Sound — 9
This album is like if Jesus had formed a band, this is what would happen. Joe seemed to have put a little bit of everything in this album. Some of the songs go through many different styles, and it flows so smoothly. The action hardly seems to stop at all in this album. It will make you laugh, cry, jump around, and think. Joe Satriani, in terms of skill, cannot compare with anybody else. He is incredibly fast, and his composition skills are amazing. His music is completely original, and there are few guitarists as exciting as Joe is. Most instrumental stuff seems to get boring after a while, but not with Joe. He doesn't always need to shred insanely fast to make a good song, because it seems that, as a virtuoso, he is more concerned with writing good music than just showing how fast he can play. Music is about expression, not speed.
Lyrics — 10
If I was to rate the lyrics, I'd give it a zero. There are none. Completely instrumental. But Joe's guitar can sing. I'll just focus more on the songwriting here. Always With Me, Always With You is a prime example of how music is more important than speed to Joe. Personally, this is the most expressive and emotional guitar work I have ever heard. He slides around on the fretboard a lot on this song. The guitar playing is so smooth, and it just flows. There's a tapping solo, but it's not like Eddie Van Halen tapping, where it's just speed. He taps in time with the music. It's melodic tapping. And there's a little bit of a raggae-ish part. I can't really describe the song. It tells a story without words. Surfing With the Alien is personally not one of my favorite songs, but it is the title track, so it must be worth something. It starts off fast with a bluesy/ classic rock riff, and then picks up with a lead guitar part. And then it picks up into a fast thing. I don't know if he trills or taps extremly fast. But the solo breaks down, and heads back into that main riff. There's a lot of guitar solo in here. I like it a lot. But with so many great songs on this album, it just isn't exactly in my favorite three. Crushing Day is easily my second favorite on this album, behind Always With Me, Always With You. It's the heaviest song on this album, I think. It really moves, and doesn't stop for a moment. The guitar solo is just you need to listen to it. Words cannot describe. The rest of these tracks are all amazing. Every song on this album is an amazing peice of work, except maybe Hill of the Skull, which is just a transition thing. It's not really a song, but an interlude or something. Every song on here is a story, and each one is different. The skill required to play and write this stuff is amazing, and could only have come from somebody like Satch.
Overall Impression — 9
There is a long debate among fans of instrumental guitarists over who is better. I will say that if you like instrumental music, consider Joe Satriani. I won't judge on whether Vai is faster or not. Of the music I listen to, this album is one of my favorites. I listen to other stuff like Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, and a bunch of classical music and other stuff. This album would rank in the top five, if I took the time to consider such a list. This album is like a storybook, without letters and words and pages. Just sounds. It moves, and each track is different, but still relevant. This is one of those albums that will stand out as a classic. I have looked for faults, and it's one of those few that is just perfect. Some of the songs may become a little repetitive, but I think the guitar solos are interesting enough to counteract that. This album has a good balance of being musical and being shred. I don't consider Joe Satriani a shredder, however. To me a shredder is somebody who plays fast for the sake of playing fast.