It would be remiss to say that Marty Friedman has reinvented himself in terms of musical focus, but his numerous travels to Japan and collaborating with musicians from many different genres of music renders the ex-Megadeth axeman as something of a revived legend. Of course, to the uninitiated, the man’s name is synonymous with some of Megadeth’s finest works, but a more in-depth look into Friedman’s career will unveil his penchant for injecting new life into a decaying or unfulfilling prophecy. If anything, releasing solo albums is probably the easiest way of satisfying and securing one’s own musical legacy, and that’s essentially what Friedman has set out to prove with this year’s Wall of Sound.
Wall of Sound starts out on an ultimately solid, focussed sound. Opener “Self Pollution” is absolutely fantastic, a work of versatile, experimental and technical art which is perhaps the finest example of Friedman demonstrating his progressive flair. Fusing the menacing swagger of classic thrash with his own modernized take on more technical metal, the seemingly endless array of riffs and solos on the album opener build and build to an awe-inspiring level of confidence. That’s just the first 90 seconds by the way. After this, the song tones down in favour of a more ambient, melancholic approach, flowing through dark-tinged acoustics but retaining versatility and memorable musicianship in the song’s favour. This same level of interest can be experienced in the next song, “Sorrow and Madness”, which is as virtuous and operatic as “Self Pollution” is menacing and enigmatic. “Sorrow and Madness” features the violin-led intricacies of Black Veil Brides’ Jinxx, but that’s not the only instrument to be heard here. Lashings of keyboard-led rhythms and Friedman’s still powerful albeit gentler riff work are both at the forefront as the overall dramatic display of energy here seems to pump out confident delivery until the song’s abrupt end.
If the rest of the album was as brilliant as those first two aforementioned songs, Wall of Sound could safely rival Friedman’s work in any of Megadeth’s records which feature him. Such is not the case however, thanks to four or five tracks deemed utterly forgettable due to an over-exaggerated focus on melodicism. “For a Friend” does what it says on the tin and sounds quite nice, but placed around some of the album’s heaviest tracks seems ultimately weak in comparison. “The Blackest Rose” is a very flowery, self-indulgent take on gentle progressive rock nuance, but falls flat because of its inability to progress beyond its own limitations. “The Soldier” seems to be Friedman’s elaborate take on dramatic, almost operatic music, but fails to fulfil those who prefer his guitar-focused delivery, something which the album’s first two songs had in spades. There are one or two golden moments to be found among the more melodic fillers however. The saxophone performance in “Something to Fight” is excellent as is usual in Shining’s enigmatic display of frenzied musicianship, and parts of “Pussy Ghost” border on the current trend of technical death metal without the guttural vocal ranges.
Perhaps Wall of Sound is Friedman’s response to those who have written him off, but there are numerous songs on here which prove that the tried-and-tested approach to featuring more melodic offerings just don’t really work. If Wall of Sound had more extremity and featured a consistently energetic performance, it would be a lot more memorable than it actually is. That said, Friedman still demonstrates a clear enthusiasm for versatile and elaborately adventurous songwriting, and this album is a continuation of that point.
Released: 4th August, 2017
- Self Pollution
- Sorrow and Madness
- For a Friend
- Pussy Ghost
- The Blackest Rose
- Something to Fight
- The Soldier
- Last Lament
Official bandpage: https://www.martyfriedman.com/