The Ultra Zone review by Steve Vai

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  • Released: Sep 7, 1999
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.3 Neat
  • Users' score: 6.6 (42 votes)
Steve Vai: The Ultra Zone

Sound — 7
I've always loved Vai's sound, especially on Real Illusions, but this albun doesn't sound as full as his other stuff. He uses a lot of electronic and world music influences but I don't think he does the latter as well on this album as on Alive In An Ultra World and the former seems to take away from the warmth and depth, which is something that made Fire Garden great. It just sounded cold and thin.

Lyrics — 5
Other than the Silent Within, I think the vocal songs on this album took away from what could have been a pretty good album. Most of them seem like filler to me and just lack that Vai magic. Silent Within is probably my favorite on the album though, and nearly makes up for it. Overall, though, I think the album would have been better without vocals.

Overall Impression — 7
In my opinion the best parts were Oooo (the great modulations and cool sound), Lucky Charms (after the chipmunks chill out), Jibboom (maybe the best part of the album, particulary the solo) and definately the Silent Within (very cool aura and the solo takes the album somewhere magical). I honestly think that this was his weakest album. I'm not gonna use worst hear because that word shouldn't ever pertain to Vai, but this album was a little disappointing. I wouldn't buy it if it were stolen.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Thsi may not be his best album but still has some stellar guitar playing. Ooo and Jiboom are awesome. The tracks with vocals are not all that great, but are a million times better than the vocal tracks on Fire Garden. Frank is another good track. Amazing feel. This one is definitely worth a listen for that occasional gem of a song.
    The first four tracks are great imho, after there it falls apart a bit. No one listens to vai to hear singing, at least, not him.
    I know I'll be accused of everything but the murder of JFK for this, but this is probably my favourite Vai album. Vai is an "alien" player. Most of his music, while favourable, is a bit too alien to keep me from listening to it every day. I found this album had just the right amount of that quality. Having said that, I wouldn't dare ask the man to change his style. It is a part of what makes him as great as he is.
    Absolutely nothing wrong with this album, but IMO it's not his best. I think that Windows to the Soul is an AWESOME song, and Jibboom is really cool too, but I think it ranks slightly below his other albums. But theres nothing wrong with this being your favorite Vai album, because lets face it, not everyone can stand the wierd noises and strange stuff that this album lacks.
    While it may not be his best and a break from his usual stuff, you can't deny he is technically the best guitarist around by a long way.
    I never really could get into any Vai stuff.. Just too weird for me, however, definately a talented guy...
    i honestly believe that this album should've at least gotten an 8. i mean, the silent within is amazing, especially the solo. Also, if anyone listened to "windows to the soul", it would have definitely reminded them of that "tender surrender" vibe, because that song is purely, "a guitarist's song". Asian sky is also an amazing song. I mean, sure, there wasn't as much guitar on this album as on his previous albums, but the musicianship and arrangements on this album definitely show Steve Vai's true genius when it comes to writing.