Sound — 9
Michael Angelo Batio returns with an all instrumental, original album, "Intermezzo." Containing all of MAB's trademark lightning fast runs and super clean arpeggios, all behind some very heavy riffing. It's been a while since Michael has released an instrumental album like this and it doesn't disappoint. As soon as the first track is played you have Michael's incredibly rich, creamy lead tone presenting itself. Throw in some 7-string riffs and quick runs up and down the neck and you know what to expect from this album.
Lyrics — 10
This a pure instrumental album, no lyrics, however I will give a brief track by track breakdown:
1. "Intermezzo" - the title track contains some complex time signatures and melodic lead lines. Nice neo-classical part with MAB classic speedy solos.
2. "Kaleidoscope Images" - heavy riffing with some nice keyboards accompanying the rhythm.
3. "Oceans of Time" - one of the strongest from the album. Slow intro that builds into a heavy arpeggio based riff. Nice slow leads, great neo-classical section and a build up to a heavy riff at the end.
4. "I Pray the Lord" - slow track with a lot of powerful lead. Reminds me of "2 X Again" and "Peace."
5. "8 Pillars of Steel" - longest track on the album, full of some great rock riffs and licks. Plenty of insane MAB solos to keep you listening.
6. "The Possession (A Tone Poem)" - very heavy with some cool Dimebag inspired riffing and tight rhythm. Great tapping sequence too.
7. "5 Four Ever" - MAB ventures into jazz territory here. Complex chords, progressions and time signatures aplenty. Some pretty wild jazz lead on the this track too.
8. "Juggernaut" - very heavy and fast track. Lots of metal riffs and super fast lead.
9. "Overload Intro" - short prelude to "Overload." Nice clean guitar tone and some beautiful, clean arpeggios.
10. "Overload" - Fast paced track featuring many guest guitarists trading mind blowing solos.
Overall Impression — 8
Firstly, this album is heaviest MAB album yet. Very fast past and some real heavy metal riffs. Partly due to Michael's new 7-string guitar. Compared to his previous albums, it is a very straight forward album, apart from 5 four ever and I pray the Lord all the songs have a quick pace. The lead here is what you would expect from Mike. Very rich, overdriven tone. Super fast soaring solos and arpeggios everywhere.
The only downfall I find on this album is the lack of grove in the lead. His older songs such as "China" and "Avalanche" had some really nice little lead parts that you can sort of sing along to.
Overall, as a big fan of Michael Angelo Batio I found this album a great listen. If your looking for an album thats full of incredible guitar work or want a good shred album, this is it. Although the sheer quantity and velocity of all the lead guitar on this album may be much for some, its still a good listen to see some limits of the guitar being pushed.
Finally, this album shows that MAB still is one of greatest guitar players ever, precise, technical and inspiring.