Album Review: Marty Friedman - Inferno

Album Review: Marty Friedman - Inferno

With credits including Megadeth and Cacophony it’s no wonder why Marty Friedman is revered as a metal guitarist. After amicably departing from Megadeth in 2000 and later relocating to Japan, many people began to question his rationale and state of mind. Now in hindsight it’s fairly obvious to see that the experience enriched him as a person and as a musician. Friedman’s taste for oriental influenced melodies and heavy metal roots make him one of the most unique, and easily identifiable guitarists to come out of the 1980’s era of shred guitar and Inferno finds him at the top of his game. The long overdue solo album has finally arrived in all of it’s blazing and melodic glory and has something for fans of every stage of his career.

The title track starts off with a catchy melodic anthem but Friedmanwastes no time in switching into a shred god mode unleashing a flurry of of scale runs and Dream Theater-esque time changes. Around the two and a half minute mark, the influence of Japanese pop culture filters into the mix, as a cartoonish dual guitar harmonization provides an interesting contrast to the power chord driven rhythm section. At five minutes long it is a test of sheer endurance. Friedmans unique choice of harmony is unmistakable on Resin. It starts out with a dark guitar riff but is soon met with the aggressive hammering of staccato rhythm guitar, in an artistic direction that perhaps Megadeth would have gone. The only slightly annoying part of the song is that it feels like a bunch of jams glued together, and while individually they sound great, the song as a whole suffers from a general lack of fluidity.

Wicked Panacea is one of the most exciting tracks on the album. The spicy flavor will linger in your mind for hours and will have you banging your head in no time. The foreploy between flamenco guitar duo of Rodrigo & Gabriela and the scorching lead guitar of Friedman rides the fine line between spiraling out of control and artistic domination of the instrument. The interplay is very interesting considering the contrasting genres and it would be fun to hear a full album collaboration between them.

Steroidhead is straight up metal, being closer to Friedman’s last instrumental album Bad D.N.A. from 2012 than anything else on the record. Progressive guitarist Keshav Dhar also brings some solid technical guitar rhythm work to the table on this track. Danko Jones recognizable voice and direct rock ’n rock approach cracks open I Can’t Relax, the fifth track, and proves to be somewhat of an oddity. Of course, Friedman doesn’t disappoint with a rockabilly inspired solo, and Danko’s quality performance is also what one would expect of him. Meat Hook begins with an avant-garde jazz saxophone solo, paving the way for Marty who brings on the chaos by the ton. Later on a flight of the bumblebee style piano further mixes things up. Around a minute and a half into the track a change of mood brings the tempo down as Marty exchanges licks with saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby. Marty is on fire and his theoretic approach to playing guitar around fretboard structural patterns is very effective here.

The next two tracks, Hyper Doom and Sociopaths get slightly lost between the other songs. Hyper Doom has a definite Megadeth feel to it, which fans of Youthanasia will enjoy but has frankly been done to death both by Marty and Megadeth in the past. Sociopaths on the other hand is the second of three songs featuring vocals on the album. David Davidson from Revocation does the honors, but excluding a technical guitar outro and Davidson, whose brutal vocal delivery on the first verse sounds like Max Cavalera, it just doesn’t feel on par with other songs.

Children of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho and Danko Jones team up with Friedman on Lycanthrope and the culmination of two different generations of metal legacy meshes together perfectly as they each push themselves to the limit. Not surprisingly the track is extremely heavy and features some excellent lead breaks both from Alexi and Friedman. On Undertow Friedman is clearly pays tribute to his old partner in crime, Jason Becker who sadly suffers from a debilitating mobility disease and can no longer play guitar. Friedman really excels at this kind of melodic ballad. It is the next track titled Horrors, however, that Becker fans have been eagerly waiting for. For the first time since the demise Cacophony Friedman and Becker collaborate together and the result is a highly throughout masterpiece containing layer upon layer of detail. Jason reportedly wrote his parts using a computer interpretation of his eye movements, and the acoustic finger work was performed on behalf of Jason by Ewan Dobson (a mutual friend of Marty and Jason). Inferno - Reprise completes the album thematically with a continuation of the first track.


In an age where most guitar driven albums are considered to be an act of self-indulgence appreciated only by other guitarists, Marty Friedman is somewhat of an anti-hero. Approaching the instrumental guitar genre from a more accessible angle and with the help of some talented musicians, Inferno is Friedmans strongest solo release in years. Lovers of heavy music in general will appreciate Friedman’s quirky sense of melody and admire his formidable technique on the instrument.

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