Elias Viljanen - Taking The Lead
Lion Music
Instrumental Rock/Metal
12 songs (42:57)
Release year: 2002
Lion Music
Reviewed by Jeff
Surprise of the month

Before giving this CD a listen I had no idea who Elias Viljanen was. So in all fairness I could listen to this album without any preconceived thoughts or expectations. After listening to it, I must say that I was mighty impressed!

For those of you not familiar with Elias Viljanen (or ‘E.Vil’ for short), he is a 27 year old guitar virtuoso from Finland. He was first introduced to the guitar by his father at the age of 9. Ever since that time he's been defining and refining his craft and skills as a guitar protégé. His influences range from Kiss and Kirk Hammett (Metallica) to Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. However, when listening to each song you will make comparisons to many other guitar players.

"Taking The Lead" is Elias Viljanen's first solo record. It's an instrumental album filled with a whole range of moods and tempos. Elias doesn't overplay like some guitar virtuosos and concentrates on making good songs that are colorful as a whole. Keyboards are used on some of the songs. Elias has injected much feeling in each song with his style of playing.

The album starts off strong with "Evoke The Sprit". It is very Malmsteem sounding. Elias begins with some hammer-on tapping techniques and plays a barrage of scales at lightning speed over some drum rolls and power chords. The song is only 35 seconds but you get the impression that the song will be longer by the way it ends. However, this leads right into "Evil Rock"; a track which has all the guitar histrionics of Steve Vai. Viljanen's guitar never seems to get a break. If it was human it would be in serious need of oxygen!

"The Axemaster" and "Taking The Lead" are just a few of the harder rocking tracks whose styles remind me alot like that of George Lynch (Dokken) and Joe Satriani at times.

The beginning of "Northern Breeze" reminds me of something that Children of Bodom would have had on one of their albums. Another great upbeat track.

Songs like "I Go Solo", "A Dream Come True" and "Beyond Twilight" represent some of the slower, more gentle and meandering tracks very similar to Joe Satriani styled ballads.

"Hyper-Boogie" is a dead ringer for Satriani's "Satch Boogie". This song makes you want to get up and move! "Written In The Stars" is another song that reminds of Satriani's "Day At The Beach".

The album finishes with "Speed Of The Devil"; a funky, Van Halenesque rock ‘n’ roll kind of song.

Overall this album is a welcomed option for those looking for an instrumental album that kicks some serious ass! It's been some time since I've heard an instrumental album as good as this one, and Elias Viljanen delivers. Crank it up!


Killing Songs :
Evil Rock, The Axemaster, Northern Breeze, Taking The Lead, Hyper Boogie, Speed of the Devil
Jeff quoted 85 / 100
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