Released: Nov 19, 2013
Genre: Neo-Classical Heavy Metal, Instrumental Hard Rock
Label: M.A.C.E. Music
Number Of Tracks: 10
Nitro guitarist Michael Angelo Batio teams up with George Lynch, Bill Peck and many more renowned musicians on his new solo album "Intermezzo."
IntermezzoFeatured review by: UG Team, on november 29, 2013 2 of 7 people found this review helpful
Sound: Michael Angelo Batio has earned a strong reputation within the guitar playing community for his dynamic use of the fretboard and sweep picked arpeggios. Michael first introduced himself to the music world back in 1984 when he joined the heavy metal band Holland, which featured Tommy Holland of Steppenwolf on lead vocals. Holland released a sole studio album, "Little Monsters," which despite moderate commercial success within the States wasn't enough to keep Holland around for much longer. The group would disband soon after, and Michael Angelo Batio went on to momentarily focus on his own solo band. The Michael Angelo Band didn't release any studio albums, however three of their original songs would make a later appearance on a Nitro compilation release.
Batio would soon go on to collaborate with glam metal vocalist Jim Gillette on a solo album, before the two would form the band Nitro alongside Vinnie Vincent Invasion bassist T.J. Racer and drummer Bobby Rock, similarly from Vinnie Vincent Invasion and later of Nelson and Slaughter. As momentarily bright as his previous efforts were, Michael Angelo Batio truly stood out on Nitro's debut studio album "O.F.R." The album's opening track "Freight Train" boasts some explosive arpeggios which even the most decorated guitarist would likely be unable to tackle, and mostly because of Michael's playing the song's accompanying music video earned heavy rotation on MTV.
Nitro would go on to release a second studio album in 1991, "Nitro II: H.W.D.W.S.," which included a strong cover of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever," before the band would eventually call it quits. This of course wasn't the last fans heard from Michael Angelo Batio. Since he left Nitro, Michael has most recently focused heavily on his solo career, and briefly worked with the band Organ Donor on their 2001 album "The Ultra Violent." Now Michael is making his return to the music scene with his new album "Intermezzo," which also shows Michael teaming up an impressive cast of well known and respected guitarists.
"Intermezzo" is a strong collection of ten original songs from the hailed guitarist, all of which proudly feature Michael's expansive guitar playing. Songs such as "8 Pillars of Steel" hark back to Michael's earlier works, and also includes appearances by Michael Schenker bassist Elliott "Dean" Rubinson, George Lynch of Dokken fame, guitarist Dave Reffett from George Lynch's solo band, and a half dozen other guitarists. Others such as the opening title track "Intermezzo" show Michael returning to that defining neo-classical style which populated his most recent efforts. // 8
Lyrics: Michael Angelo Batio's new solo album "Intermezzo" doesn't include a lead vocalist, which in many ways is a good thing. "Intermezzo" is a batch of bland, vanilla-sounding guitar dominated tracks: a quality we hear in so many renowned guitarists' most recent solo efforts. "Intermezzo" does include some awe inspiring guitar work, but most importantly (in my opinion) each track is bolstered by melody, and is enough to get your foot tapping in to time. If we did have the addition of a strong lead vocalist to this mix, he wouldn't get the proper attention that he would deserve when you have such a broad collection of guitar talent trying to grab your attention. // 8
Overall Impression: With Michael Angelo Batio's new solo album "Intermezzo," we have an impressive collection of guitar talent joining together to create some memorable melody-infused anthems. Dizzying arpeggios are aplenty on this effort, and it's enough to capture the interest of any guitar player. // 8
Joe310707, on january 15, 2014 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 9
Lyrics: 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. // 10
Overall Impression: 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. // 8
mikesocarras, on august 29, 2016 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I came onto instrumental metal not too long ago. But I must say that this album is one of the most impressive I've laid my ears on. MAB soars here with his melodies, riffs, shred licks... and an aggressiveness that begs for you to stand up and conquer life. This review comes awhile after the album has come out but I just HAD to write it. There was something in my gut just begging me to do it. I am enjoying this album too much to contain my joy inside me and keep it to myself. Most of my metal listening friends have gone off and gotten married so I don't have many people here in my hometown to share this with. Hopefully this resonates with metal fans all over the globe. I hope you find this review helpful as this album marks a significant part of my life. Its gotten me through some heavy times.
Heavy music for heavy times. It's perfect. The sound here is incredible. From start to finish this album does not disappoint. I cannot seem to stop playing it. I play it everyday. Yep, every single day.
"When asked about the writing and recording process of 'Intermezzo,' Batio has claimed that his goal was to create an album which '[had his] signature MAB sound, but not rehash or repeat riffs and solo passages from the past,' pointing out that he 'used new riffs and new ways of putting solos together that [he hadn't] used before.' The guitarist also noted that, in writing the material for the album, he recorded 'more than 200 different song parts and ideas' on his phone whilst touring, refining the ideas later. Batio has also claimed that he believes 'Intermezzo' to be his heaviest album released to date.
Speaking in an interview in 2013, Batio explained the meaning of the title 'Intermezzo' and its relevance to the album:
The term intermezzo is an Italian musical term which denotes a piece of music that is in between two major parts of an opera. During longer operas there would be an intermission and during that time there would be musical pieces that would be played titled intermezzos. Sometimes these works would become more popular than what was being played before and after. I have had an amazing career up [until] now and there are a lot of amazing things going on within music. I consider myself to be in that intermezzo phase with my career." // 10
Lyrics: My most factual, humble opinion on the songs:
1. "Intermezzo" - The title track contains a melody thats been ringing in my head for many months now and I love it. I can't get enough of it. The drums starting from the intro are impeccable. It's such a good song. The song then goes into a lightning fast lick then into a riff with some counterpoint that simply stuns you and leaves you with your jaw dropping. Then he comes back in with that melody and some more shredding. It's just shredding goodness all around. 10 out of 10. 5 Stars. Whatever you want. If you like aggressive metal with some fantastic melodies and shred licks. This song will not only lift you up but make you want to play it over and over again. My favorite part is the melody and the slow part before he hits you again with that melody which is one of the greatest melodies ever written in metal instrumentals. Then for the Climax at 3:50 is my absolute favorite part that gives me CHILLS every single time I hear it. Its like I'm looking into the future and everything's gonna be alright.
2. "Kaleidoscope Images" - This monster of a riff that starts off the track will knock you off your seat. Play this at full volume and you'll see what I mean. The effect used here fits perfectly. Listen for yourself. There's so much to this album that I'm too excited by it at times to do anything else. I HAVE to crank this album...Its part of my daily routine and it should be part of yours too. Just a tasty melody, vibrato all over your face followed by some extreme shred. Unmatched in his shred style. Harmonized melodies satisfy your ear before the 3:00 minute mark before its off to some double bass drumming and into the Intro riff again. Phenomenal. Absolutely intense from start to finish. More goodness through to the end of the song as it leads you into the next powerhouse track.
3. "Oceans of Time" - Just the title alone is absolutely draws you in. A clean tone starts this one off into a cool little section that again sounds great. Then comes the distortion and your blood begins to flow. I begin to notice his compositional skills here as you have to listen for yourself. In comes a piano riff from some distant place that just makes you salivate. Then a jazzy part which is a nice change but then comes in a melody with an instrument that I do not know what it is. It plays over this heavy chugging riff from the depths of Mordor. I don't know what this means haha. But then comes in a solo over this blast beat by the drummer. We're not even close to the end yet at this point. I don't know how much time it took to make this album but to record these riffs you have to be one of the greatest players in the world. And all the memory... oh my God. Just before the 5 minute break comes in the clean intro riff followed by pure HEAVINESS.
Get this album NOW! So you can hear the outro lick on this track. Simply amazing. // 10
Overall Impression: 4. "I Pray the Lord" - Okay when this song plays your heart strings get tugged on and you cannot help but fall into a spell by this melody. Just a really soothing track. I have to play this song every time I play this album. It's just incredible. One of my favorites. I crank this puppy at 11 and drive on the highway to get rid of all the shit that life can throw at you. You want to hear a melodically driven shred track this is the one. I would love to talk to him personally and get his take on the harmony of this entire album and his composition techniques. Actually I hope he reads this because I am absolutely floored by this album like I haven't been in quite a long time. If you like dark songs and heavy riffs this is a must album. I would put this album at album of the years. Ja Ja. Yes... years. Those bell-like sounds give it this extra flavor that just spices things up for your ears.
5. "8 Pillars of Steel" - What do you get when you get 8 Guitar Virtuosos and put them all together on a track? One badass hell of a track is what you get. Although when I first started listening to the album this is the song I would usually stay away from since it has sort of a happy melody to it. I like more the darker stuff on the album. But that soon changes as you'll see. What made this song for me was the when I saw the video. Totally have a new perspective on this song.
The guitar players that show up in this video with their solos are as follows:
Dave Reffett - Comes in with masterful technique and phrasing. Probably my favorite.
Jeff Loomis - Bad to the bone no doubt about it unbelievable shred solo.
MAB himself - Shred greatness.
In comes the melody before they go into the rest of the solos.
Rusty Cooley - Pure balls in this solo. Shred Wizardry.
George Lynch - Not my favorite but probably the most unique. Some really cool phrasing in here.
Andrea Martongelli - Probably the best solo. My hands hurt listening to it. All the practice that probably went in to get those skills to pull off a mind blowing solo makes my hands hurt!
Craig Goldy - Not my favorite. Although a really good solo. Hell... I can't do that. Really cool!
Here it is. Video:
6. "The Possession (A Tone Poem)" - Another melodic masterpiece. From start to finish. Melodies and shred. Blast beats. Riffs. Just some impeccable bends and vibrato on this track. Not that there aren't on other tracks. This melody though is one of my favorites. It simply heals me every time I hear it. You can't go wrong with this one. Fucking badass.
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. Not my favorite track but I think he makes some of the jazz guys look bad with his playing here. I don't know what do you think? Some heaviness does come in around the 2:20 mark that satisfies the metal head in all of us. Lastly it has yet another memorable melody by the great Michael Angelo Batio and the ending is a clean shred style lick thats just awesome before comes in some electricity for the final ending.
8. "Juggernaut" - Very heavy and fast track. Lots of metal riffs and super fast lead. The beginning sounds like a monster. Like if someone is gonna scream their heads off after the first intro but instead comes some beautifully crafted lead guitar.
9. "Overload Intro"
Short prelude to "Overload." Nice clean guitar tone and some beautiful, clean arpeggios. Sweet and soothing to say the least.
10. "Overload" - Fast paced track featuring many guest guitarists trading mind blowing solos. Track starts with a quintessential heavy metal riff and then a pinch squeal to drive your neighbors out of their house! This melody in this song is not your most common and thats exactly why should listen to it. Its full of guitar techniques. Mind blowing ones. This is a track to sit and listen to and enjoy with no distractions so you catch all the solos cause it goes very fast!
Other badasses on this album:
Alex Stornello – Lead Guitar Guthrie Govan – Lead Guitar Chris Poland – Lead Guitar Annie Grunwald – Lead Guitar Michael Romeo – Lead Guitar Florent Atem – Lead Guitar Tobias Hurwitz – Lead Guitar Ken Burridge – Lead Guitar Darren Burridge – Lead Guitar Bill Peck – Lead Guitar Peter Ema – Lead Guitar Joe Rose – Lead Guitar Joe Stump – Lead Guitar
And that's my review. Let me know what you think. Lovers, haters... all of you. Post in the comments below. I aspire to one day play like you MAB! // 10