Album review: STEVE VAI – Inviolate

Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group [Release date 28.01.22 - vinyl 18.03.22]

With over 40 years in the music industry, Steve Vai should need no introduction, he is a virtuoso guitarist, composer and producer, considered by many as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Vai has sold over 15 million records, received three Grammy Awards, and recorded with music legends like Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth, Whitesnake; toured extensively and recorded live projects as well as authoring music theory book designed to help both beginners and veteran guitar players.

His previous album, Modern Primitive was released nearly six years ago. This latest offering, Inviolate, is Steve Vai laid bare, it is all about the guitar, with Vai still managing to find new techniques that would challenge the most accomplished of players.

The composition of the songs and the sublime guitar playing mainly on a Gretsch, along with his supporting band, gives you a treat in sheer skills, listen in awe, I did!

Inviolate presents his most focused, streamlined and perhaps invigorating music in years. “It’s very ‘Vai,’ whatever that means,” he says, and then laughs. “Someone else might be better than me at explaining what that is. But it’s just very honest music.

Because a lot of my records, they’re long and there’s a lot of concepts and playing around with stories. This one has none of that. This is nine pretty dense all-instrumental compositions that I wanted to capture and record so I could get out there and play them live for people.”

The opening track of the album, “Teeth of the Hydra,” was written and composed on a one-of-a-kind custom guitar he coined the Hydra (see cover art). Built in conjunction with the designers at Hoshino and based on a “steampunk motif” idea of Vai’s, the Hydra is a beast of an instrument – a one-bodied, two-headstock-ed, three-neck-ed creature, “It’s an incredibly-built machine,” Vai says.

Some of the songs were released in 2021, ‘Candlepower’ and ‘Knappsack’ which was made following his shoulder surgery, at a time when his right arm was in a sling (or, as his surgeon, Dr. Knapp, called it, a “knappsack”), and thus was able to use only his left hand when playing the piece. Standout tracks for me ‘Avalancha’ and ‘Knappsack’ – this album is atmospheric, challenging and a must for any guitar aficionados. It won’t to be everyone’s taste but if you are a technique geek, this is for you. ****

Review by Karen Clayton





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Power Plays w/c 16 May 2022 (Mon-Fri)
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WALLNER VAIN Deceive Her (indie)
FIGHT THE FADE Where You Go I Go (FiXT)
MARATON Non-Euclidean Heart (Indie Recordings)

Featured Albums w/c 16 May (Mon-Fri)
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