Racer X

Second Heat

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    8
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Racer X's debut album, Street Lethal, established the band as little more than a vehicle for guitarist Paul Gilbert's virtuosic neo-metal soloing style. For its sophomore release, Second Heat, Racer X ups the intensity of its already terrifying instrumental attack by adding second guitarist Bruce Bouillet to the fold, thereby enabling some of the most amazing dual-guitar work ever recorded. What's more, the band has become more cohesive and have even penned some catchy songs with worthwhile melodies. Second Heat's overall style follows the well-established Judas Priest/Van Halen template (they even cover a Priest tune, "Heart of a Lion"), but each song is punctuated with detailed pyrotechnical touches from the guitarists, and the rest of the band, for that matter. While Bouillet's skill nearly matches that of Gilbert, the rhythm section of John Alderete and Scott Travis (bass and drums, respectively) proves to be one of the most formidable around. Check out the instrumental "Scarified" for a true demolition set piece. What ultimately makes Second Heat superior to its predecessor is its better-developed sense of songwriting; tracks like "Hammer Away" and "Living the Hard Way" are as good as anything else in the pop-metal arena that was popular in the late '80s. One word of warning, however: Beware of the bombastic cover of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" which strips away all the charm and subtlety of the original and makes the song a backdrop for (you guessed it!) more shredding. While some may find this sort of thing harmless, others may find it sacrilegious.

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