Steve Vai – Inviolate

8/10

One of the very few good things about the Covid-19 pandemic was that it offered some excellent opportunities to play guitar and write music for many of us musicians. Some even managed to create whole albums during the different lockdowns and quarantines, and the great living legend of shred guitar Steve Vai has done just that.

As a guitarist, he should need no introduction to any serious guitar player, but listing his merits is thrilling just for the sake of how accomplished his career actually is. Starting off as a student for the ultra-demanding rock composer Frank Zappa, Steve was offered a job in the band (often credit as playing “stunt guitar”) by transcribing Zappa’s guitar solos by ear into sheet music, making up his own little symbols for Zappa’s odd noises and sound effects in his playing.

Being a student under Zappa wasn’t easy, as Zappa used to tell him things like; “You know Steve, I think you’re a really good musician, but your tone sounds like an electric ham sandwich”. This was apparently something Steve took to his heart, as his tone and playing would later develop into one of the most recognizable guitar tones in the music business. After becoming very famous for first replacing Yngwie Malmsteen in Graham Bonnet’s band Alcatrazz, and then following footsteps of Eddie Van Halen as David Lee Roth’s first post-Van Halen guitarist, as well as replacing Adrian Vandenberg in Whitesnake, Steve Vai managed to eclipse all of these endevours with his own solo career, starting in 1985 with the highly musical ‘Flex-Able’. It’s also interesting to see that Steve Vai who launched his career through other musicians projects, has also launched other musicians himself such as Devin Townsend who made his recording debut on Vai’s 1993 solo album ‘Sex & Religion’.

Usually, Steve Vai’s solo albums are musically strong, full of hook-laden melodies and his trademark ultra-fluid solos with a legato like running water and staccato like a swarm of bees. They are also full of neat little tricks and gimmicks, and the latest album ‘Inviolate’ features several. On one of the highlights, a song called ‘Knappsack’, Steve shreds with only his left hand, without ever using his picking hand. Apparantly, this track was written and recorded after he had torn a tendon in his right shoulder whilst making pizza(!) The doctor that examined him was named “Doctor Knapp”, hence “Knappsack”. Another track centered around an interesting guitar gimmick is the track ‘Teeth of the Hydra’, which features the “Hydra Guitar” visible on the albums front cover. This multi-neck guitar consists of a 7-string and 12-string guitar, short-scale 4-string bass together with 13 sympathetic harp strings. Only Steve Vai would come up with something crazy like that, and that’s why ‘Inviolate’ is another fine addition to a remarkable career from a guitarist who always manages to surprise after already having done so much.

 

  • Artist: Steve Vai
  • Title: Inviolate
  • Label: Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group
  • Date of release: 28/01/22
  • Rate: 8/10
  • Stand out track: Teeth of the Hydra

 

Steve Vai – Inviolate

February 4, 2022

Being a student under Zappa wasn't easy, as Zappa used to tell him things like; "You know Steve, I think you're a really good musician, but your tone sounds like an electric ham sandwich".

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