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Elias Viljanen - 'Taking The Lead' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/a4/24/18/1809_eliasviljanentakingthelead_1324579584.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 22, 2011    
 
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One of the better guitar instrumental albums that I have heard in a long time.

First released in 2002 'Taking The Lead' was 'Sonata Arctica' guitarist Elias Viljanen's first instrumental solo album. This re-release sees the album repackaged with a bonus seven track live DVD called 'Evil Spirit Live' (more of which later).

This is my first encounter with 'Taking The Lead' and if someone had told me that the guitarist playing on it was the same one who is in Sonata Arctica, I would have laughed with incredulity. Viljanen, you see, has a whole different playing style here to the one that he employs when he plays with SA. On this CD he comes across as a big Vai and Satriani fan: yes he is that good! The technique, feel and emotional content he puts into each track on the album is wonderful to hear, and what I really loved about his playing and composing is the fact that he never seems to forget about the importance of the song or its melody.

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'The Axemaster' is all fluid, shifting guitar solos, the Steve Vai like 'I Go Solo' could have been taken straight off Vai's 'Passion & Warfare' album, while title track 'Taking The Lead' has a hard rock riff that majestically rolls along with Viljanen soloing like a demon over the top of it. 'Northeren Breeze' has a kind of Sonata Arctica guitar riff mixed with a clever Satriani-like solo, while 'A Dream Come True' has the softer side of Viljanen's playing shining through, all help showcase a master craftsman at his work. Work that I found fascinating to watch and listen to: the DVD which has been added to this album featuring seven songs taken from both of Elias's solo albums. It includes 'The Axemaster', 'Touching The Sky', 'Up To Speed' and 'Evilized' and was professionally shot in 2006 while Viljanen toured with Stratovarius. Unfortunately I have only been sent the first two tracks of the DVD so cannot really comment on the whole thing, but from what I saw the video features a great sound, something often missing on such bonus discs, and is well worth a look.

So if you missed out on 'Taking The Lead' first time around, do yourselves a favour and buy it now because it really is one of the better guitar instrumental albums that I have heard in a long time.

Ian Johnson

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