Real Illusions: Reflections Review

artist: Steve Vai date: 06/02/2007 category: compact discs
Steve Vai: Real Illusions: Reflections
Released: Feb 22, 2005
Genre: Rock
Styles: Heavy Metal, Guitar Virtuoso, Progressive Metal, Hard Rock
Number Of Tracks: 11
The music is incredible here as always. Vai plays with a particularly wide range of grooves and tempos this time, and his guitar solos continue to grow.
 Sound: 9.6
 Lyrics: 8.3
 Overall Impression: 9.4
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (8) 11 comments vote for this album:
overall: 10
Real Illusions: Reflections Reviewed by: unregistered, on may 09, 2006
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Steve is quite the guitar master. But he is also an incredible musician, composer, and songwriter. The albums he creates are emotional, spiritual, heavy, and very creative and unique. I must say this album blew me away. I already had Passion and Warfare, which is arguably his best work, and still I was blown away by his emotion and pure talent. The sound is its own and cannot be compared to his other works, just like P&W had its own sound. // 10

Lyrics: Lyrics are good and mostly simple and sometimes deep and poetic. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I like Steve's voice. Hes obviously not the greatest singer, but he can sing and steps up to the challenge and does a good job. There is also a little story that goes with the album, since it is part 1 of his rock opera. // 10

Overall Impression: The best songs are Building the Church, Glorious, Km-Pee-Du-Wee, Lotus Feet, Midway Creatures, I'm Your Secrets, and, Under It All. The others are great as well. Dying For Your Love grows on you a lot, so you probably wont like it too much at first but it grows on you a lot. If I lost it I would definatly get it again. If your a fan of Vai I also reccomend his epic live album, Alive in an Ultra World. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Real Illusions: Reflections Reviewed by: unregistered, on february 28, 2005
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: To start off I would like to say I'm a huge Steve Vai fan as well as Joe Satriani. This new CD by Steve Vai, master of the 6 string, is a sort of a rock opera. You may be asking how Steve Vai could make an opera, he is a instrumentalist, for the most part. On this CD he sings on several songs, an example is he song Firewall, which has a disco feel with tight chops backing it. But basically this album is Vai shredding as usual. // 10

Lyrics: Steve has a good voice, and his singing songs have decent lyrics. I would give the lyrics a much lower score if he didnt go with the the guitar note for note. For example the song K'm-Pee-Du-Wee he makes the guitar actually say K'm-Pee-Du-Wee, it's amazing. So his work with his voice going along with the guitar perfectly gives him points. // 8

Overall Impression: This is defenently a good album, all Vai fans should purchase it. It is a great lisening experiance for a guitarist, and bassist alike, Billy Sheenan Shreads! The best songs on the album are Freak Show Excess, which has amazing lead and a trippy citar intro. My other favorite songs on the CD were Building The Church, Under It All, and Lotus Feet. The thing I love about this album is the amazing chops of Steve Vai and the way his voice works with his guitar, and he makes the guitar say things. The thing I dislike most about this album are the semi-Cheezy lyrics, there not too bad thou. This album couldn't be stolen because its on my iPod and iTunes, but if they were deleted I would defenently buy this amazing CD again. // 10

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overall: 8
Real Illusions: Reflections Reviewed by: high voltage, on march 01, 2005
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: This is Steve Vai's most progressive work yet. It is his first full length concept album and it does not disapoint. Athough it will be difficult for many of you who classify Steve as a "rock guitarist" to appreciate his musicianship and his continuous strive to take the instrument to a new level, the rest of us can enjoy a CD filled with emotion, catchy riffs, unique rythms, and amazing guitar playing and composition. Unlike other CD's where Steve free-styles solos gratuitously by playing scale fragments and whammy tricks, on this CD each note seems purposeful and well thought out. A lot more introspecitve that his previous works. It has a '70s psychadelic and funk feel to it, which pays tribute to his Zappa inluence, but some cuts are very much straight ahead rock. Check it out. Vai fans will love it, and you kids who want to learn something about playing guitat, have a listen your '90s guitar heroes don't even compare to this. // 10

Lyrics: I think that when you are a genius such as Steve Vai there probably gets to be a point where you feel you can do anything. Will someone please tell him that he should not and can not sing. I'll be honest with you here. Steve Vai cannot sing and should not be singing, his lyrics are decent quality, but he just can't get it going on. Steve is a very talented man and I am going to continue to purchase his albums and tour his shows whether he sings or not, but personally he just isn't very good at it! // 6

Overall Impression: Steve Vai has one of best resumes in rock and roll, period. Vai started out as his career as a member of Frank Zappa's ever changing musical freak show and soon found himself working for another well know freak when he became a member of David Lee Roth's solo band. In fact it is fairly safe to say that without Vai Roth's solo work would have been lackluster at best. A true guitar genius, Vai has also worked with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and buttdown front man David Coverdale of Whitesnake. Still, despite all his high profile side work, Vai has still managed to maintain a body of solo music that is as diverse as it is strange. Vai's latest release Real Illusions: Reflections is no exception. Vai has always had an affinity for conceptual music and Real Illusions, aside from being a great record, is simply the first of several courses Vai has planned for his fans. Real Illusions: Reflections is designed to set the stage for a fable that Vai plans to tell over the course of several more albums and eventually a box set. Musically Vai's playing is mind boggling with its soul and precision and the record even features lead vocals from Vai himself. The album also contains a sample of Vai's orchestral work with the track "Lotus Feet." All in all Vai has once again traversed all musical boundaries and has released yet another unique album. Here's a track by track review: 01. Building The Church - starts out with a Ridiculous two-handed tapping intro that must be heard (which ends up a theme for the song). Very metal backing here (also a major thing throughout the album). A lot of this songs sounds like he used the guitar synth, so there are some very cool sounds. 02. Dying For Your Love - bit of a change, this song has vocals (multiple layers, good thing). More guitar synth work here. Parts of this song remind me of circus music, mostly because of the background keys. However, this song definitely does have a dark side to it, as the title suggests. 03. Glorious - back to instrumentals here. Vai said this was partially done on the Triple-Neck Jem, and I think it bears some resemblance to the track on the latest G3 DVD he did with the guitar. Again, this song's main opening theme was done on the guitar synth, but then Evo took over for the bulk of the song. There are some very good guitar/keyboard unisons here (not duels, just unison parts). Very up-tempo song on the whole, very well composed. 04. K'm-Pee-Du-Wee - this is the simplest song on the whole album, nothing but guitar, bass, and drums. As with "Glorious," parts of this song remind me of "I Know You're Here" from G3. You can tell he put a lot into this song, and there are a ton of signature Vai moments (especially things like his ridiculously perfect vibrato). 05. Firewall - another vocal track here. After a few listens, I think the vocals at the beginning represent about 17 different overdubs. But, they are what I'd call "percussive" vocals, not just melodies. This song has it all, handclaps, drums, funky guitar parts, Horn section. Think of this as like, Stevie Wonder on crack. It's plain cool. 06. Freak Show Excess - starts off with a great sitar hook and takes off from there. This is the first big guitar shreddy moment here. There are a few guitar/keyboard parts and several guitar/bass ditties throughout, a sitar guitar (the one Vai takes on the road) solo is included, but mostly guitar (as the name tends to imply). There are a few runs in the solo that are just ridiculous, not that I'm really surprised, after all it is a Steve Vai album. The final guitar solo reminds me of the solo at the very end of the Fire Garden suite (if you have both you'll understand). 07. Lotus Feet - there are no words to describe this song. If "Firewall" was the gimmicky highlight of the album, this might be the overall highlight. This song was recorded live with the Metropole Orchestra in Holland, and has Vai playing some ridiculously beautiful melodies with the orchestra. Seriously, there are some emotional moments equaled only by "For the Love of God" and maybe "Whispering a Prayer" on this track. I can't even imagine what this would have been like live. There really is nothing I can say that would truly do this song justice. 08 Yai Yai - I would assume he used a talk box for this, but it could have been the guitar synth as well. I don't know how I would describe this song to somebody. The whole song is just Vai seemingly piddling around with "Yai Yai" coming out. Funny song. Great listen. 09. Midway Creatures - oh yes, we have metal. You may remember a teaser video he posted on the site a while back of him playing a solo on the Floral Jem synth, well that was from this song. The backing to this track is pretty damn heavy, I'd wager he recorded it on the Bad Horsie Jem, and I would also assume that all the solos were recorded with the Synth guitar. There is a middle guitar duel section between two panned guitars, short but sweet (not shreddy, just cool). 10. I'm Your Secrets - we have another vocal track here. Very nice intro which carries throughout the whole song, reminds me of more off of "Alive in an Ultra World," which is a very good thing. This song is a bit of a mix between the softer parts of "Rescue Me or Bury Me" and (to some extent) "Burnin' Down the Mountain." 11. Under It All - final track, which also happens to be a vocal track. I happen to think this is a great way to wrap up the album. It kicks your butt right from the drum-driven intro, and then moves to a heavy guitar riff and some solos over it. There are a few guitar breaks that are nutty, not so crazy as the ones in Freak Show Excess, but still great. One small melody in the song reminds me of "Brandos Costumes" from Alive in an Ultra World. Near the end of the song, Vai's friends and family play different "parts" and say some lines. What more can be said when you put this cd on people will know it's Steve Vai. I reccomend purchasing this album! // 8

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overall: 7.3
Real Illusions: Reflections Reviewed by: unregistered, on march 02, 2005
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: This is the first Vai album I have bought and admit it's got a nice ring to it. Vai is very emotional in his guitar playing and can express himself well but I'm rather disappointed by how it sounds like he loaded alot of the tracks with effects, I personally prefer a straigh clean or distorted guitar but just 'cause its difference doesn't make it bad. The overall album has a powerful surrounding sound to it and it motivates you to play or do something that makes you confident. // 8

Lyrics: Vai much like Satriani needs to drop his lyrics and vocals altogether. I find Vai better at writing lyrics and singing them then satch but they both should stick to the guitar and leave vocals to more accomplished vocalist. Vai should have stock with his plan of getting Lenny Kravitz to sing for him along with others. But his own voice and words are decent enough for the album to play through without skipping the vocal tracks. // 4

Overall Impression: It's a good album with some high and halfway points. It's not terrible but it is strange. How is a concept album not strange though? Vai goes all out and accomplishes an album that is very moving and has a meaning behind it rather than just ripping out his virtuoso skills and leaving the rest of us axe slingers in the dust. Steve is very talented in putting together an album loaded with pieces that I will be spinning for years to come. // 10

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overall: 10
Real Illusions: Reflections Reviewed by: Cobain-iac_90, on may 18, 2005
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Vai is the greatest modern spectacle in the guitar world today. He has totally enveloped me in his sound. The songs on this album are just grandeus and beautiful. From all his tapping techniques to his whammy bar skills, he amazes me every album. This is no different from albums like Alien Love Secrets or Sex And Religion, it is a work of art. The only way you could define his sound is to just make up a new word and just define it as "Steve Vai." From his beautiful orchestrated piece, "Lotus Feet," to his otherworldly "Yai Yai," Vai proves that he can do just about anything with a guitar. Even if some of the songs are gimmicky, they still make me admire his prowess at playing licks that I could never have imagined possible. // 10

Lyrics: I hate all these people saying Steve sucks at writing songs. I loved all the lyrics on these albums. "Dying For Your Love" was pretty cool, "Firewall" was just crazy with its scat-like intro, "I'm Your Secrets" was so deep, and "Under It All" really delves into the human psyche. I love his songwriting techniques. His voice isn't exactly the best one out there, but I love it. // 10

Overall Impression: I love this man! He has given us greatness in one, small, cellophane-wrapped package, and we should all be glad he's still able to make stuff like this at his age. I was blown away by "Freak Show Excess," which in my personal opinion could rival the likes of "Eruption." "Lotus Feet" was just a beautiful piece of music I never thought possible. And, my personal favorite, "Yai Yai" was just mind-boggling. I loved every second of this album, and look forward to its sequels. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Real Illusions: Reflections Reviewed by: ChickenBone, on august 01, 2005
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Steve Vai's recent works out of this world. More on the cultural side than popular music. Nothing compared to Fire Garden, though. There is supposedly a story behind this CD. Something about Pompoosh and other fictional characters. The songs fit the narrations by Steve. Yes, Steve Vai is quite emotional with his guitar. It's amazing what he does. Vai has a unique sound and yet his pieces have its own touch to it. "Glorious" has a bit of an Alien Love Secrets touch to it. "Lotus Feet" is the 7th track (supposedly the 7th tracks are the more powerful, emotional, less heavy songs). This song is a masterpiece! Though, the album ends with an absolute bang! "Under It All" is just mind-blowing! One of the most creative yet! Just listen closely and let raw emotion fill your mind. // 10

Lyrics: Lyrics were great. Poetic, yet they make sense. Steve us a genius. Especially with "Under It All." // 10

Overall Impression: It doesn't quite compare to Fire Garden at all! Well, Fire Garden has huge shoes to fill though. This album doesn't really have that classic Vai sound you'd expect. It's a bit different. But I don't think you'd find a song to hate. Though, I skip at "Yai Yai" often. If you're an old fan of Steve, buy it. But if you're new at his works, start with his Anthology, Alien Love Secrets, or Fire Garden. // 8

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overall: 9
Real Illusions: Reflections Reviewed by: a-a-ron555, on august 01, 2006
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Most of the songs are catchy, some fast and others slow, but incredible. I do believe Steve used a wider variety of instruments in this album than any of his other albums. "Freak Show Excess" inmpressed me and I'm pretty sure it impressed a lot of other people because of "Bulgarian wedding" style. It had a fast pace and incredible guitar and sitar solos. It is one one of my favorite songs of all time. // 9

Lyrics: Not that Steve Vai sings a lot in his albums but I think he did a pretty good job, like in "I'm Your Secrets," and "Under It All." It is a very good example of how you can bring your lyrics alive with the music. Most of the players who are into this genre of music tend to add cheesy-ass lyrics to their music. So far, I think it is the best I heard of from Steve Vai's voice. // 9

Overall Impression: You can say it is like to Joe Satriani's "Surfing With the Alien." As many of you may know is his most recognizable album. I think "Real Illusions: Reflections," is a great example of how Steve Vai is simply the quintessence of guitar playing. Songs that stand out from the album are "Freak Show Excess," "Building The Church," "K'm-Pee-Du-Wee," and Glorious." These songs are either fast and exciting or slow and tricky, but relaxing. I think it is worth stealing from a store. // 9

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overall: 9.7
Real Illusions: Reflections Reviewed by: CaptainSBDA, on june 02, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The first whole Vai CD I have ever owned and it did not disappoint. Steve Vai is truly the best musician I have ever heard, and this CD is nothing short of that reputation. The sound is of course diverse, this is Vai here. We have rock (Building the Church, Glorious, Midway Creatures), hypnotic stuff (Dying For Your Love), funk (Firewall), and then just plain craziness (Freak Show Excess). Steve Vai has what appears to be a dynamite sound, and he should get noticed for it. // 10

Lyrics: The lyrics are decent. "Dying For Your Love" reminds me of "Aching Hunger" off of "Fire Garden." Haunting, deep lyrics. Then you have the fun funkiness of "Firewall," a great song with cool vocal percussion. Then you have the ballad "I'm Your Secrets," and the deep exploration of the human soul on "Under It All." The lyrics are overall very good here. // 9

Overall Impression: 01. Building The Church - good way to start off, has the sound of a classic Vai rocker with cool tapping. 02. Dying For Your Love - great song. It's definitely an acquired taste, I hated it the first time I heard it, but now I truly realize it's beauty. 03. Glorious - mediocre instrumental that isn't wholly memorable. 04. K'm-pe-du-we - weird title, but the song is beautiful. It's simple instrumentation (one guitar, drums, bass) and it truly shows the beauty of simplicity. 05. Firewall - just a fun track. Vocal percussion, horns, and great guitar, this song is definitely memorable. 06. Freak Show Excess - amazing. "Fire Garden Suite" is of course his best song, but this comes close. It's breathtakng how crazy this song is. The solo at the end will melt the skin off of your face. 07. Lotus Feet - a brilliant composition; should've won the Grammy it got the nod for. This song is done with the Metropole Orchestra, and it is brilliantly composed. 08. Yai Yai - filler. 09. Midway Creatures - ok, it certainly could have been better. It starts out great, but then it just sort of loses steam after awhile. 10. I'm Your Secrets - very bad. It's boring and really not very well performed. 11. Under It All - what a way to finish an album. This song is the best on the CD. It's a great hard rocker (done with a 7-string guitar to boot) and the lyrics are awe-inducing. The lyrics are apparently part of the "concept album" theme, but to me it seems like an exploration of the human soul. The part with the talking voices near the end is great. Overall, a great album, Steve Vai proves that he is indeed the greatest guitarist on the planet. Well done, Steve! // 10

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