Richie Kotzen

Instrumental Collection: The Shrapnel Years

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During the '80s, Shrapnel dominated the shredder guitar market with prodigies that seemingly had cartilage removed from their joints in order to play 128th-note guitar solos in the blink of an eye with samurai-like precision. One of those ambitious young axegrinders was Richie Kotzen, who would later show up in Poison. This collection of his tenure in Shrapnel presents two phases: the hard-rocking years when guitar acrobatics were at the forefront of compositions (1989-1997), and the more melodic and composition-friendly albums of the 2000s. The first four tracks find Kotzen competently backed by the amazing combo of Stu Hamm on bass and Journey drummer Steve Smith, and pretty much set the tone for the first half of the disc with over the top antics and musicianship shadowing the mother of all shredders, Steve Vai. Things wind down a little bit, but Kotzen's abilities only mature and grow stronger as time goes by. This is a great overview of the accomplishments of one of guitar metal's unsung heroes.

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