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James Williams - 'Eclectic Shred' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/6b/a4/6c/3546_jameswilliamseclecticshred_1368056371.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 08, 2013    
 
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One of the most aptly titled albums I’ve ever come across.

There are a few genres which rightly or wrongly strike fear into the hearts of certain sections of the metal masses. Just uttering the words Christian Rock, modern metal, growled vocals or guitar instrumental albums is enough to send certain members of the otherwise calm rock and roll faithful into apoplexy. No prizes for guessing then that un-cryptically titled ‘Eclectic Shred’ falls into the latter of those categories whispered above, with James Williams, who also features in the symphonic metal band X-Opus, using the ten tracks on the album to illustrate his six-string talents to the full.

Now truth be told, the more closed minded out there may well have stopped reading by this stage (not that they will have actually seen that sentence if they have...) and in a way there may be good reason for that. After all there is absolutely no denying that ‘Eclectic Shred’ is one of the most aptly titled albums I’ve ever come across. Different shades and hues ease into and out of focus across the songs, with the likes of the mid-paced symphonic themes of ‘Auschwitz’, the broodingly progressive tones of ‘B17 Flying Fortress’ and multi-paced groove of ‘Journey To Andromeda’ all in truth merely being vehicles for Williams to plug in, play loud and get his furiously flexing fingers flying up and down the fretboard as quickly as possible. That however isn’t to say that as individual songs they don’t work well or that they fail to hold your interest – they do, but there’s no getting away from the fact that what Williams has produced could almost be described as the definition of “shred”.

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Mike LePond of Symphony X shows up to add his undoubted bass skills on the fiery blast of ‘Dropa Stones’, while Matt Guillroy from James Labrie’s solo band also provides keyboards. However I would far rather that Williams had recruited a drummer for the album instead of programming all beats himself, which merely offers up the most annoying bass drum thwuck that nearly all drummerless projects suffer from.

If you are a follower of the fretboard, a disciple of dexterity, or a sucker for symphonic metal where the guitar’s the star, then ‘Eclectic Shred’ will hit you hard, what with its at times reasonably song based approach making the guitar work all the more impressive. However if you’ve made it this far into the review and none of those three aspects mentioned above tick your boxes, then I can only suggest you move along sharpish and try out Williams’ main band X-Opus, who are also well worth sampling.

Steven Reid

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