Racer X

Getting Heavier

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There was a period in the late '80s where rock guitar was headed in a highly technical direction, where you'd have to practice on your instrument for hours upon hours to keep up with the players in your latest edition of Guitar for the Practicing Musician. One of the best examples of this was Racer X, which included not one but two "shredders": Paul Gilbert and Bruce Bouillet. However, by 1989 the group was kaput when Gilbert decided to jump ship and join up with bass extraordinaire Billy Sheehan in pop metallists Mr. Big. When Racer X reunited in 2000, Gilbert assumed all the guitar duties in the band, which he obviously has no problem handling, as evidenced by such subsequent releases as 2003's Getting Heavier. Whereas some rock bands mellow as the years add up, Racer X is an exception, as they stick closely to their original game plan: highly skilled metal. In fact, they spend too much time focusing on the technical side, as the lyrics/vocals of "Lucifer's Hammer" are what you'd expect a collaboration between Nigel Tufnel and a high school metal band circa 1987 to sound like. But let's face it, it's safe to say that everyone buying a Racer X album is listening for the complex playing, not the lyrics, and there's loads of it here, especially such tracks as "Catapult to Extinction."

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