Chuck Schuldiner Project

Friday, September 28, 2012

Xander Demos-Guitarcadia


Xander Demos is a shred guitarist from my home state of Pennsylvania. He has all the chops and some mad licks. They are very tasty and his debut album is filled to the brim with awesome solos and lots of crazy shredding. In many ways this sounds like something Shrapnel Records would release in the 80s. I'm not saying that it's boring, but that it's very much in the style of the old masters like Malmsteen. It has the old school power metal feel, the oodles of solos, and the fun high energy bouncy riffs, as well as the obligatory killer cover song. (In this case Boys of Summer). Guitarcadia is an album that will draw you in, show you a shreddin' good time and spit you back out. With a sound that could only have come from the womb of Malmsteen this album will not fall to blow you away.

The guitar work features a ton of crazy solos. And there are a lot of instrumental tracks on this album. It makes the vocals feel a bit out, but overall it creates a very nice overall sound. The songs flow into each other and the lush guitar nerd solos will take most shredders back to their early days in the genre. Listening to this record I think of my first shred albums, Odyssey (Malmsteen) and Glory to the Brave (Hammerfall). Xander manages to capture all of their majesty while putting his own specific spin on it. I might describe his sound as a tad jazzier than Malmsteen's. He also does not confine himself to any one scale, and this means that he gets a lot more from his guitar. The neoclassical stylings on songs like White Knuckle Driving are very tasty and they add a lot to the album and give it that old-school feel. Overall, the playing on this album is awesome and I will be listening to it a lot just for this.

Meanwhile there are other cool aspects of this album. The bass is certainly given a lot of time to shine. I really like the bass lines and they help solidify a very shred-tastic album. There are some cool fills too and I really like the way they fit into the music. White Knuckle Driving features some cool stuff from a bass perspective too with a most excellent fill at the beginning. The drumming is pretty solid too and there are a lot of great fills. In particular the song Guitarcadia (which is yet another track in the good old Shrapnel Records style) shows off a lot of really cool fills that I didn't really take in on first listen. It really keeps the energy up and makes sure that you don't die under the might of Xander's soloing. Overall, this bands' rhythm section is stellar and truly knows how to keep a shred god on his feet.

Finally the vocals are a ton of fun and can be both very power metal as well as very rock. The more power metal songs really get into a Hammerfall vein and conjure up images of dungeons and dragons. It's hard to say a lot about the singing due to a good chunk of the album being instrumental. I will say that the singer definitely does have a great voice and he can really rock. I will also go so far as to say that, the cover of Boys of Summer is just as good as, if not better than the original and this mans' voice plays a HUGE part in that. He really gets the atmosphere right and can truly drive a band forward.

In conclusion, Guitarcadia is a lush album filled with tons of glorious licks that will rip your mind apart. This is an album that takes elements of modern power metal and shred and fuses them with an old school Vai or Alcatraz sound and then goes crazy with it. Xander Demos is a guitar god and he knows how to rock. His band is also brilliant and they really give him a solid backing for his guitar madness. So go listen to this album, guitar players will delight and non musicians will be blown away by the beautiful melodies that Xander continually creates.

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