Shockwave Supernova

Joe Satriani

Like the explosion of a genuine supernova. How easy the master made it to describe the opening to his new disc, the heart and soul of the great guitarist's set on his umpteenth world tour. This is Satriani for all tastes, from the hardest rocker to the purely virtuoso. With nothing to prove now, a song like Crazy Joey is a delight albeit not suited for everyone who may dare to follow him. But the instrumental prowess displayed in On Peregrine Wings is, like the album title, something otherworldly, only for those who know how to surf with an alien

Fifteen albums and all of them good, but his most recent one is a truly well-rounded disc. In addition to a repertoire of his recognized skills well worth discovering, Joe Satriani has tapped into the heaviest side of his musical personality. Rock has always been his main point of reference and, in fact, half of the guitarists in the heaviest groups in the universe, from Metallica to Dream Theater, have studied with him. Steve Vai is another story. He's another extraterrestrial.

But instead of becoming a household name, Satriani preferred to take chances playing the songs of other artists without losing his identity. To settle for being just another blues legend, if you'll pardon the expression, wasn't enough for someone whose hero growing up was Jimi Hendrix. His brief stint with Deep Purple was memorable and this writer can testify to that, but he outgrew it. For more proof of his passion for the hardest side of the rock world, look to his role as a producer of death metal.

With all that said or, better still, written, the time has come to complete the portrait of Joe Satriani as rocker deluxe. His new disc wraps all his power within a silk veil. The rhythm section of the Aristocrats -drummer Marco Minnemann and bassist Bryan Beller- combined with Mike Keneally's proficient keyboards will put the low end of your system to the test while that guitar rips through the air with solos that cut sharp as a knife. Like the bursts from a supernova.

However, Satriani's bursts don't burn. His eclecticism has enabled him to live on the fringes of chart success, where it has always been difficult to flourish with instrumental albums that in his case fulfill their role to accompany, not disturb, perfectly. His great virtue is having earned the respect of both the leather & studs heavy brigade and the acclaim of the general public who fills his concerts. That is something no can dispute he earned through his own hard work.

Of course, Satriani also leaves room for a pair of those ballads where he sustains his notes out to infinity, songs one sector of his fans loves to death while the rest take the opportunity to wander off looking for another beer. They sound as forced as the name of one of those moments of peace in the midst of all the cosmic bursts: Stars Race across the Sky. He certainly didn’t rack his brain too hard.