Vertical Invader

Alex Masi

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Vertical Invader Review

by Gary Hill

This release, the second "solo" album by Masi, is a true instrumental record. Whereas the first release, Attack of the Neon Shark, included several other musicians, Masi is accompanied here only by John Macaluso (Malmsteen/T.N.T.) on drums. This one also foregoes the variety of style that he showcased on the previous album. Instead, this time he focuses his efforts thoroughly on the aggressive neo-classical hard rock styles. This prevents the feeling of lack of direction that marred the previous album, but also tends to limit this one a bit. To be fair, it should be noted that the jazz and fusion elements are not completely missing here, they are just integrated more into the overall texture of the release, rather than bouncing from song to song. Comparisons to many artists are understandable (Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Frank Zappa), but the total of the sound is all Alex Masi. The sheer virtuosity and compositional talents of Masi make for an album that should please fans of the genre a lot, but those who are put off a bit by this type of music will find it less interesting than its predecessor. Masi's sense of putting the song structure in a place of importance rather than just creating pieces of music that only serve as venues for soloing does elevate this above a lot of that genre, though.

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