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Byron Nemeth Group - 'The Force Within' (digital nations) 4/5

Ok I'll have to be up front and say I've always had a bit of an issue with solo guitar instrumental albums... all that technical mindless widdle the likes of Yngwie Malmstein and co used to serve up left me cold and wondering what the hype was about. It was 99% style over substance, technically superb, but to the average listener who wasn't a guitar wank freak, it was soulless and lacking in any form of imagination. However over the past few months I've had a couple of releases arrive through my door that have made me take another look at the whole guitar instrumental album thingy. first up we've had 'War march' from Sacred mother Tongue axpert Andy James, and now this little tasty offering from Ohio g-meister Byron Nemeth.

On first listening I began to realise that this album is less Malmsteinesque mindless masturbation and more Ronnie Montrose / Steve Hackett style guitar lead prog; in fact the title track from this album wouldn't seam out of place on one Mr Hacketts more recent offerings with its slick melodic lead lines and synth wash backing. I will go as far as to say that melody is the key word here, Yes Mr Nemeth does go in for the odd bit of technical flashiness, such as the conclusion to Frankenstein's Lullaby, nowhere does he make the mistake and let his playing descend into the mindless blur so many so called guitar heroes consider playing. The whole album does come over as a band work rather than a solo guitar album, the keyboards share just as much of the lead work as the guitar does, and each track is a complete piece of music rather than being an excuse for yet another 5 minute guitar solo. And for that I, and everyone else who hates six string onanism must be thankful for.

Just to select a few choice moments; Dream Catcher is a great track that wouldn't sound out of place on a Yes album, I Don't Mind is a beautiful chill out moment and the closer I am The Walrus (yes the Beatles number) comes over like a classic cover by The Shadows.

All in all a worthy album and a must hear for lovers of all good guitar music

for fans of... Steve Hackett, Ronnie Montrose, The Shadows et al...

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