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Joe Bochar, aka Joboj, is far from the first electric guitarist to play chops-obsessed instrumental hard rock. From Jeff Beck to Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Mads Eriksen, and Randy Coven, plenty of aggressive hard rock guitarists have recorded instrumental albums that were hell-belt for chops. The thing that separates Joboj from those virtuosos -- some of whom have influenced him -- is the fact that he is coming from an alternative rock perspective. There are certainly parallels between X and the Vai/Satriani/Coven school of instrumental hard rock; like those axemen, Joboj loves to blow and sounds like he is getting a natural high from his own virtuosity. But this 2002 release is very much a product of a post-'80s, post-Nevermind world -- X is what happens when a guitar-playing instrumentalist is living in a climate of punk-minded alternative rock. This CD is full of influences that you wouldn't have heard on one of Vai's '80s albums -- influences like alternative metal, electronica, hardcore, and industrial. And when you think about it, Joboj's approach was inevitable; if Vai and Satriani could appeal to the Guns N' Roses/Mötley Crüe/Van Halen/Scorpions crowd, it was inevitable that someone like Joboj would play instrumental rock for fans of Live, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam or Korn. The sort of chops-obsessed approach that Joboj favors on X is an acquired taste, and one that tends to appeal to professional musicians more than the layman -- like Vai and Satriani back in the '80s, X is designed for the type of obsessive guitar freaks who hang out at Hollywood, CA's Guitar Center (or someplace comparable in another city) and compare notes on their axes. Those who fit that description will find that X -- by being both instrumental rock and alternative rock -- is filling an important need.

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