Inferno review by Marty Friedman

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  • Released: May 27, 2014
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 5.7 Decent
  • Users' score: 8 (48 votes)
Marty Friedman: Inferno

Sound — 6
It's significantly challenging for a talented guitarist to step away from one of the most readily known names in heavy metal and attempt to forge a successful career as a solo artist. Marty Friedman has been attempting to achieve this same feat after leaving Megadeth during the new millenium. Friedman had previously forged a strong name for himself for helping construct such studio efforts as "Rust in Peace" and "Countdown to Extinction," before ultimately leaving the band due to creative differences; Friedman wanted the group to remain to their more aggressive approach, whereas Megadeth proceeded to move towards an, well, alternate route. 

Aggressive is certainly an appropriate term to describe Marty Friedman's newly released solo effort, "Inferno." The guitarist's thirteenth studio album arrives soon after several somewhat questionable ventures which showed Friedman providing his own take on Japanese pop songs, and shows Friedman recentering his attention towards crafting take-no-prisoners heavy metal tracks. The majority of "Inferno" is comprised of instrumental recordings, which are injected with supplemental doses of unforeseeable tempo changes and experimental instrumentation, some of which benefit the piece while perhaps more frequently leave the listener scratching their head. 

Selections such as the accelerating title track "Inferno" and "Steroidhead" boast rock bottom rhythm guitar and wild lead guitar work, which proves to be somewhat too chaotic to digest after one listen while remaining nonetheless solid. However, songs such as "Meat Hook" are downright bizarre, and show Friedman implementing a manic solo above racing saxophone playing. It's during these more experimental moments where Friedman's eccentric passion for heart-racing recordings collides face first into a literal and largely negative "Train of Consequences."

Following an albeit brief yet familiar "Hyper Doom," the album once again reaches a rough performance on "Sociopaths." This track introduces the first appearance of a lead vocalist on the album, this time being David Davidson of Revocation. Simply put, this track is blistering for the sake of being blistering, with a chaotic conclave of high energy drum kicks, lung busting screams and incohesive guitar arrangements ultimately resulting in a performance which feels heavily improvised.

Lyrics — 5
"Inferno" includes two recordings which feature the addition of lead vocalists; one of which being the aforementioned "Sociopaths" featuring David Davidson, the second being the slightly palatable "Lycanthrope," which shows Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom at least attempting to place moderate variation into his performance. For the most part, however, the only moments which include vocal tracks only contribute to the album's uncontrollably improvisational qualities.

Overall Impression — 6
Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman attempts to channel the restless side to his songwriting through a compilation of of incohesive guitar elements and the occasional addition of deafening screams on his new studio album, "Inferno." While some fans may appreciate the twelve tracks of accelerating guitar work, the majority of dedicated listeners may want to take caution when listening to Friedman's latest effort.

47 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I've listened to a fairly decent selection of Friedman's work: Cacophony, Megadeth, and his solo albums from Dragon's Kiss to Music for Speeding. I really like the direction I heard here; the title track blew me away and "Undertow" was simply beautiful. I will definitely have to check out the rest.
    agreed. I think the person who reviewed this simply doesn't know who Marty is.
    Yep, as well as getting the reason he left Megadeth wrong. The title track rules and the comment sounds "improvised", what a joke. Your entitled to an opinion, but this is a bad review.
    "I Can't Relax" featuring Danko Jones is the first song on the album to feature a lead vocalist...why do I feel like (judging from your review) you gave this album a speed-through listen because you already had a predetermined negative assumption of the album? I personally love the entire album from start to finish. Inferno has some of the most unique and forward thinking guitar work I've ever heard. I hear a lot of people say it's all just "noodling", but that's because they aren't listening to the melodies. It may most all be balls to the wall in your face, but each phrase has a purpose, in my opinion and that's what I love about Marty's playing. Probably my favorite track above all is his co-written song "Horrors" with Jason Becker, which I'm said to see doesn't seem to get much notice or credit from any of the reviews out there. Each song is unique on this album, and each deserves a listen because this album is more than just a single song. 10/10 in my opinion, but that's just me.
    I agree with everything you said here. This album is incredible. The energy level is out of this world.
    Brutal review UG ...after i enjoyed those 2 videos above i downloaded the full album and listened to the whole thing. Definitely not improv and deserves more than a shit score. It even has a song with Alexi and Danko. all the acoustic parts are sick. Great metal/instrumental album. 8/10 for me.
    Can be summed up as 'I don't like experimentation, therefore its bad.' I should really start reviewing again, holy shit.
    I saw him live three weeks ago and he absolutely ruled..he remains one of the best guitarists in metal and this album proves it. The title track is already my favourite instrumental track of the year.
    Wow. You didn't even mention the track with Jason Becker. Seriously, frickin' Jason Becker, at least aknowledge him. And the track with Rodrigo Y Gabriela. And you completely ignored the existence of Danko Jones, which sang in two tracks of the album, I Can't Relax and Lycanthrope. I don't think it's Friedman's best effort too, but you could've at least mentioned all the collaborations (and honestly, payed more attention when listening).
    This review had about as much substance as the early Metal Archives' reviews. Don't review something if you're gonna just hastily throw shit together. Also, this is my favorite release of his since Scenes; Marty really surprised me with this one.
    UG staff makes the worst reviews ever. Too many moods and melodies for you to catch? Album has some of the best guitar work in metal.
    This album proves that Marty still remains one of the world's best guitar players. It certainly has some of Marty's best work to date, and tracks like Undertow, Meat Hook or Wicked Panacea are just incredible.
    Gonna have to give this a listen. The fact that Jason Becker co-wrote a song floors my enthusiasm to hear it.
    this album is pure dope... what's wrong with the review? I've been listening to Marty's whole catalogue for years. This stuff is original and GREAT. Give it a listen people! Favorite tracks: Inferno Steroidhead Sociopath Special mentions to : Horrors ( takes some listens but beautiful piece of work, lot of things are going on at the same time... Thanks to Jason/Marty Duo! *Undertow Beautiful instrumental
    Stupid review. It's like whoever reviewing the album did ZERO checking into his back catalog. This fits perfectly into his solo discography.
    I'm sorry, but this album is a brilliant example of what I think instrumental guitarists like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and others SHOULD be doing: Invite different singers and musicians to play with them. I only hope this is the start of something bigger. I'd love to see a Steve Vai album where he finally plays with a bunch of different well known singers on the album...
    I think around 2:20 in the title track is a little homage to Holy Wars, sounds like a familiar phrase :p
    Indeed, reminiscent of one part in Dave's solo near the end (starting at 5:20 of that track). Good call!
    To each his own I guess, but the review isn't really well written as far as I'm concerned. Has the reviewer actually listened to the full album, or to any of Marty's solo stuff, for that matter? Wasn't really clear from the review. Where's the comparison with the rest of his work?
    what the hell is that video all about, four girls all running then getting tired and staring awkwardly at the camera wondering what to do next
    Undertow is such a beautiful piece ...not a lot of instrumentals have this much emotion in it
    Marty did leave Megadeth because of creative differences but you have it the wrong way around. Marty wanted to push into an even more "Alternative" sound for Megadeth whereas Dave said after Risk that Megadeth had to go back to their old sound , thus Marty left. Great album though !
    Other way around. Marty wanted to play some heavier stuff (like the emerging death metal scene), but Mustaine didn't. It was still an amicable split.
    Marty stated in an interview that he didn't want to go back to Rust In Peace sound and wanted to continue with the new (At the time) Megadeth sound (Risk etc.)
    "before ultimately leaving the band due to creative differences; Friedman wanted the group to remain to their more aggressive approach, whereas Megadeth proceeded to move towards an, well, alternate route" - wasn't it the opposite? Megadeth was getting less and less agressive, because Marty wanted to take a more pop-oriented direction.
    Marty and Dave contradict each other on the issue. To me it's like, Marty might have had those tastes in music, but Dave's the one who wrote the majority of Cryptic Writings, Risk, and now Supercollider. He's always blamed everyone but himself for how those albums were received, but he also wants to be known as the main driving force for any successes of those albums. Marty ended up playing pop for real, but I'm pretty sure his alternative influences aren't the reason Megadeth wrote a song like Crush 'Em.
    According to Marty he wanted to play even heavier stuff. Mustaine has always been one to talk shit, but Friedman doesn't strike me as that type of person. He is very honest and down to earth. So if I'm going to pick someone I have to believe it would be Friedman.
    check out this sweet shirt its got loads of holes cut out on the sleeves, yeh this isnt at all lame. Since when did marty start dressing like early Avril lavigne??
    I'm listening to the title track at the moment. A lot of interesting stuff melody wise. Too bad the distortion guitar heavy arrangement is quite boring. Power chords after power chords -_-
    The entire album isn't horrible, there are some pretty good instrumental songs on there. But I agree, especially on "Meat Hook" it just gets a little bit bizarre with the dull distortion and saxophone pairing.
    Sounds like something from Jeff Loomis' albums. I haven't liked anything Friedman's done since True Obsessions, but this sounds a big step in the right direction.
    I only know Marty's playing from Megadeth and Cacophony so I don't know if it's just me, but does his playing nowadays have way more straight picking than legato stuff? That's what I noticed about the title track, the playing was more aggressive and less smooth.
    Melody and tone over speed any day! Undertow is one of the sweetest tunes i've ever heard.
    The album was really just prog metal. The reviewer was obviously expecting an entire album of the Tornado of Souls solo.
    EVERYONE! This album is amazing and the title track "Inferno" is IMHO the worst song on the album. Go listen to the rest, it's worth your time. My favorites: Wicked Panacea, Steriodhead, Meat Hook, Sociopaths,Undertow (Yes, the ballad of the album) and Horrors is super heavy.
    This review would've been better if you've slightly touched the fact that Jason Becker and Marty have joined forces again for the song Horrors, which Marty used Jason's outstanding acoustic arrangement in the "Not Dead Yet" movie. As for the experimentation bit, I totally agree that this record is somewhat hard to listen to but you get used to it, I'd say. The only bad aspect about the album is that it sounds rather synthetic to me.