Sound — 10
Well, this is just more than a first for Steve Vai. This is a bold step for any musician to take. To team up with one of the world's greatest orchestras (Holland's Metropole Orkest) is an accomplishment for anyone, but especially for Mr. Vai. He does brilliantly here. The first disc are his classics done with an orchestra and him on guitar, and the second disc are compositions he wrote for an orchestra being performed (Without him on guitar.) The feel of and sound is epic. From the epic take on "Kill the Guy With the Ball" to the dark "The Murder" and to the brilliant, peaceful "Gentle Ways," this has got it all. And the second disc has got the nice orchestra feel that is big and bold.
Lyrics — 9
As I and many hardcore Vai fans have said, Steve doesn't need lyrics, the guitar paints the lyrics for itself. However, that doesn't go without saying that some of his vocal selections should have been chosen for this album. Could you imagine his brillaint songs like "All About Eve" or "Firewall" done with an orchestra? And better yet, his peaceful ballad "I'll Be Around" would have been a nice peaceful selection. But above all of this, the song that should have truly been on here is "Under it All." One of Vai's boldest, brashest epics done with an orchestra? Now that's real music right there!
Overall Impression — 10
For the first disc, I'll go track-by-track: 01. Kill The Guy With The Ball - this song is good, but disappointing. The actual "Kill the Guy With the Ball" part lasts only 1:38. The first two minutes or so are just a warmup. Plus, the song doesn't feel the same without the crazed vocals in the beginning. But, for the 1:38 of the song, it rocks. 02. The God Eaters - it's OK, it's a little too short. 03. The Murder Prolouge - unecessary, in my opinion. They should have just made "The Murder" ten minutes long instead of wasting a track for a short 1:18 intro. 04. The Murder - better than the original. The original was a little too much of a dark jam session, and this orchestrated version really adds to it. 05. Gentle Ways - this track has grown on me, and I have come to conclude that this is the best song on the first disc. It is brillaintly done, far better than the original. This should have been the seventh song, in my opinion. Strong track. 06. Answers - awesome! This is one of the major highlights. The original is a top ten Vai classic, and this orchestra version absolutely rules (The G3 with Eric Johnson contains the best version of this song). 07. I'm Becoming - this is the seventh song? This is just Steve noodling around on his guitar for two minutes. It's cool, but for the famed seventh slot it's a lot less than expected. 08. Salamanders In The Sun - great; better than the weird original track. This gets rid of the Zappa feeling that was prominent in the original. As many have said, this sounds like it was first made for an orchestra. 09. Liberty - this song is MADE for an orchestra; this version is great. It sort of loses the "New National Anthem" feel but it's still very good. 10. The Attitude Song - the orchestra adds a whole new great feel to this Vai classic. This isn't as good as the originial version, but it's still great. 11. For The Love Of God - good finish and the best version of this song. I wasn't a big fan of the original (I know saying that is like pure evil to all of you diehards like me, but hey, everyone has their different taste), so this is truly a great improvement. Now, for the second disc, I will just sum up. Steve is a brilliant composer. This whole disc is amazing. This shows that he is truly the best musical genius in the world. These songs are so brilliantly performed but they are also brilliantly written. All of the songs are good, with the exception of "Sparks" (the song is basically just a violin playing the whole time). The highlights here are "Shadows And..." "Frangelica Pt. 2" and "Bledsoe Blvd." "Shadows And..." is probably the best song on both discs. If you notice, the song has a main melody, but it also goes off into some Vai classics. It's truly an amazing track. The only negatives are that the second disc, while amazing, slightly lacks without Vai's playing, and on the first disc the orchestra sometimes overpowered Vai. Overall, it's far from Vai's best, but as originality goes this is probably number one. The orchestra is brilliant as is Vai. I paid far too much for this CD off of the Seenon preorder, but after getting the meet and greet pass and listening to this disc in the end it all was worth it. I hope, however, the next disc by Vai is a studio album.