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Steve Vai|Inviolate

Inviolate

Steve Vai

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Reviewing a new Steve Vai album is a stunt almost as terrifying as trying to reproduce some of his insane guitar solos. Who on earth is qualified to pass judgement on this exceptional guitarist? What are we even meant to say? Should we pretend we’re marking his music like it was a homework assignment and make generic comments like: “Could do better”; ”Good work, keep it up”; ”It’s about time you started taking this subject seriously"


…Right, enough of the joking around. Today, Vai claims complete and utter artistic freedom, and at over 60 years of age, no one can hold that against him. After all, the late Rémy Julienne was never criticised when his car didn’t dramatically burst into flames every time he went to pick up a loaf of bread from the bakery.

Much in the same way, Master Vai’s 2022 release is now nuanced, and a light, airy vibe takes centre stage. As you’d expect, it’s technically dense, but this never takes precedence over the melody. Vai has clearly spent time deliberating on the perfect note to drive his listeners crazy. Little Pretty, which has also been released as a single, is the perfect illustration of this. Vai is still the virtuoso we know and love, but showmanship takes a back seat on Inviolate. Even Teeth Of The Hydra, which was composed especially to be played on Hydra, Vai’s latest multi-stringed fling (a triple-necked architectural masterpiece featuring 6 and 12-string guitars, a 3/4 scale length bass guitar, and 12 harp strings and a sampler to boot) doesn’t sound outwardly “complicated” like you'd expect (everything’s relative, right?). Jazz rock even gets an invitation to the party on Apollo in Color during his gritty bass solo. Candle Power will wow the techies whilst still being easy on the ear for the newbies. Meanwhile, Greenish Blues and Sandman Cloud Mist provide a smooth, luxurious interlude. Vai always has excelled in more intimate pieces.

At first, Inviolate feels a little “one-size-fits-all”, but that doesn’t make it any less addictive. It presents a Steve Vai who has liberated himself from the pressure of expectation. Doing what he likes, when he likes, is his only concern now. The hardcore “shredders” might be the ones making it into the magazines today, but Vai’s discography is so rich that you can always go back and listen to his past music to get your fix of incredible speed and otherworldly guitar skills. But, as for right now, Vai’s going for a more chilled and laid-back vibe. Which, to be honest, is a welcome breath of fresh air during these chaotic times. © Charlélie Arnaud/Qobuz

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Inviolate

Steve Vai

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1
Teeth of the Hydra
00:05:12

Steve Vai, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group 2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group

2
Zeus in Chains
00:04:38

Steve Vai, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group 2022 Mascot Label Group/Favored Nations

3
Little Pretty
00:06:25

Steve Vai, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group 2022 Mascot Label Group/Favored Nations

4
Candlepower
00:03:30

Steve Vai, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group 2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group

5
Apollo In Color
00:04:18

Steve Vai, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group 2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group

6
Avalancha
00:05:09

Steve Vai, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group 2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group

7
Greenish Blues
00:06:06

Steve Vai, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group 2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group

8
Knappsack
00:05:18

Steve Vai, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group 2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group

9
Sandman Cloud Mist
00:06:00

Steve Vai, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group 2022 Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group

Album Description

Reviewing a new Steve Vai album is a stunt almost as terrifying as trying to reproduce some of his insane guitar solos. Who on earth is qualified to pass judgement on this exceptional guitarist? What are we even meant to say? Should we pretend we’re marking his music like it was a homework assignment and make generic comments like: “Could do better”; ”Good work, keep it up”; ”It’s about time you started taking this subject seriously"


…Right, enough of the joking around. Today, Vai claims complete and utter artistic freedom, and at over 60 years of age, no one can hold that against him. After all, the late Rémy Julienne was never criticised when his car didn’t dramatically burst into flames every time he went to pick up a loaf of bread from the bakery.

Much in the same way, Master Vai’s 2022 release is now nuanced, and a light, airy vibe takes centre stage. As you’d expect, it’s technically dense, but this never takes precedence over the melody. Vai has clearly spent time deliberating on the perfect note to drive his listeners crazy. Little Pretty, which has also been released as a single, is the perfect illustration of this. Vai is still the virtuoso we know and love, but showmanship takes a back seat on Inviolate. Even Teeth Of The Hydra, which was composed especially to be played on Hydra, Vai’s latest multi-stringed fling (a triple-necked architectural masterpiece featuring 6 and 12-string guitars, a 3/4 scale length bass guitar, and 12 harp strings and a sampler to boot) doesn’t sound outwardly “complicated” like you'd expect (everything’s relative, right?). Jazz rock even gets an invitation to the party on Apollo in Color during his gritty bass solo. Candle Power will wow the techies whilst still being easy on the ear for the newbies. Meanwhile, Greenish Blues and Sandman Cloud Mist provide a smooth, luxurious interlude. Vai always has excelled in more intimate pieces.

At first, Inviolate feels a little “one-size-fits-all”, but that doesn’t make it any less addictive. It presents a Steve Vai who has liberated himself from the pressure of expectation. Doing what he likes, when he likes, is his only concern now. The hardcore “shredders” might be the ones making it into the magazines today, but Vai’s discography is so rich that you can always go back and listen to his past music to get your fix of incredible speed and otherworldly guitar skills. But, as for right now, Vai’s going for a more chilled and laid-back vibe. Which, to be honest, is a welcome breath of fresh air during these chaotic times. © Charlélie Arnaud/Qobuz

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