Toshi Iseda

Full On!

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While not up to world-class instrumental rock standards, Chicago guitarist/instructor Toshi Iseda's playing has plenty of flash and the artist demonstrates his massive chops to fine effect on this debut. All the ingredients needed to create fine shred material are here: dense harmonic motifs, dynamic musical shifts, intriguing arrangements, and, of course, tons of skilled guitar trickery. Iseda just about has it all but, unlike the best of his genre (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Steve Howe, Yngwie Malmsteen), the guitarist doesn't quite display the unique guitar tone/voice or the strong rhythmic sense needed to make his million-note melees coalesce into something more than musical free for alls. Iseda's rhythm guitars and melodies can sometimes drift in front of the beat -- a bad habit many shredders can't shake. Regardless of genre, the best guitarists never fight the beat. With a keen sense of time, the finest players keep the pocket stabilized, maximizing compositional power. While perhaps not perfect, Iseda is no hack, and this metallic collection sports some fiery soloing. The Chicago shredder basically keeps up when trading licks with monsters Michael Angelo on "Affair With a Stranger" and "High Noon" and Tony MacAlpine on the melodic epic "The Sheltering Sky." In addition to laying down a torrent of guitar tracks, Iseda produced, arranged, composed, recorded, and mixed Full On! in its entirety, and while the drums get lost amid the guitar flurries on rare occasion, the guitarist proves himself very capable on both sides of the recording console. By the time Full On! was released in 1998, there were hardly any new musicians breaking into the minuscule instrumental rock market, so Iseda must be given credit for being true to his own musical values and doing the hard work necessary to make this debut the fast and furious entry that it is.

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