Sound — 9
Vinnie Moore, what can you say about the guy? He's been in the business since the early eighties, one of the most phenomenal talents to come out of the Shrapnel era of instrumental metal and rock, and with some of the other artists on the label (Malmsteen, Gilbert, ect.) that's saying something. While Vinnie is most well known for his debut album, Mind's Eye, which was very much in the "Neo-Classical" style of Malmsteen, on this album, his most recent, we see a far more relaxed, and more melodic Vinnie. While some may be concerned to hear that Vinnie's mellowed out, this is by no means a bad thing. While it is jaw dropping to hear his flawless technique on his debut, it can get tiresome to listen to. This album however, shows far more dedication to the song, and not just showing off. Every song sounds different, and while there are hard rocking songs on the album (Off the Hook, Transcendence, and Jigsaw to name two) we also get to hear a far more melodic Vinnie on tunes like Fly and Soul Caravan. Playing with UFO has certainly affected his sound, as he now gains a more bluesy style, but never really loses that neo-classicalism he is so well known for. Also, while the solo's are indeed awesomely crafted and played, they never get in the way of the song, as many instrumental guitar players are prone to do. Rather, they complement the songs, and seem like the songs were written to include the solos from the beginning. While Vinnie doesn't have any great innovations here, he does provide some interesting moments. A good example is his use of Natural Harmonics in "Off the Hook". All in all, this is probably Vinnie's finest moment on record so far.
Lyrics — 9
N/A. However, according to the review button, I have to type at least another 253 characters into this box. So I will now proceed to waste space. I guess I could discuss how the guitar works as the vocalist. On the record, Vinnie's guitar tone is really good, not the over distorted tone that some guitar players have. You can clearly hear what he is playing, which is nice. Also, Vinnie seems to at least try to emulate a vocalist when he plays, creating phrases with the dynamics that one would expect from a singer. This is far nicer to listen to, as you can tell when Vinnie is actually taking a solo, and when he is playing some kind of melody line.
Overall Impression — 9
As I mentioned above, what we are given here is not the brash, speed demon Vinnie Moore, but rather a more experienced, and more mellowed Vinnie Moore. This is not a bad thing though! Instead, it helps the record immensely as Vinnie becomes more focused on the tunes, and not on displaying his immense talent. What strikes me on this record is that in a sense, Vinnie's become more of a Hard Rock/Metal version of Jeff Beck. That's what his playing reminds me more of now, rather than sounding like another Malmsteen knock off. Hopefully Vinnie only continues to grow in the leaps and bounds he's made on this record. If this record was lost or stolen, I would quite easily repurchase this. This is Vinnie's finest moment on record so far, and a high point for the genre of Instrumental Rock/Metal.