Instrumental Rock and Progressive Metal Reviews New iphone app blog Wow, over a year since my last post! So much has happened it's been crazy. Supporting Devin Townsend with Toehider (he's a really nice guy), playing gigs with The Beards, The Protomen, playing loads of church music, going overseas, the Ayreon album, changing jobs.... I need a break. For the past couple of months I've been working on an iPhone app, and last week I created a blog titled the Heavy Metal Trivia Blog. I've been updating it pretty regularly so check that out if you're interested. Top 10 guitar solos of all time A few days ago I saw this. And I think it's an abomination. I guess I deserve all that I get reading anything from the nme :) So in an attempt to give a bit more credence to the guitarists who actually, you know, know how to play the guitar, here's the guitar solo's that I think really re-defined the art of the electric guitar. 1. Deep Purple - Lazy In 1972 Deep Purple decided to record the rock album of all time. Every solo on this album is a killer, and every song is a killer. Deep purple have always been an amazing live band and this really shows up in their chemistry. 2. Eddie Van Halen - Eruption In 1979 Eddie Van Halen exploded all over his first album and boy was this a stunner. For years nobody could work out how he did it and called him a cheat! But we know the truth.. the guy was a genius! 3. Yngie Malmsteen - Far Beyond the Sun In 1984 Malmsteen released "Rising Force" and defined a new style of metal - neoclassical. Similar to Van Halen a lot of people thought that his records were sped up - how could anyone play that fast? 4. Joe Satriani - Crushing Day In 1987 Joe Satriani sat down and recorded the epitome of instrumental rock. The classic "Surfing with the alien". Too many great solo's to choose from, so here's a personal favourite: 5. Steve Vai - The Animal In 1990, Joe Satriani's former student Steve Vai released his second instrumental album. A landmark in sonic textures, alien sounds and amazing solo's, this album holds up to this day and still sounds fresh. 6. John Petrucci (Dream Theater) - Under a glass moon In 1991 metal was almost dead. Which was a shame because Dream Theater went on to be one of the biggest metal/prog bands in the world, but at the time, this stuff was incredibly uncool! Now without hearing the full song this solo won't make a lot of sense... so here's the full song. The solo is at 4:37. Ok it can't be helped... here's the master playing the solo! 7. Greg Howe - Joker's Wild - 1995 By the mid 90's grunge was in full swing and nobody wanted to have a bar of instrumental rock! Luckily for us, Greg Howe continued to record and release album after album of incredible music. Howe's ability to shred over extended crazy chord changes just freaks me out. He's also super funky. Setting the scene for upcoming future shredders, Howe was doing it all first, years before anyone had caught up. 8. Ron Jarzombek (Spastic Ink) - 1997 Every now and again there comes along a new guitarist who will just blow you away. The next man on the scene was Ron Jarzombek, and boy will this guy will just make you laugh. Everything he does is clearly insane. It must also be mentioned that it's his brother Bobby on drums who delivers an amazing performance on this tune: 9. Guthrie Govan - Sevens In the mid 2000's, this dude appeared on youtube. Pretty soon every guitarist in the world was saying "Who the hell is this guy?" and he became known as "that youtube guy". Expanding what could be done on the electric guitar, Guthrie has pushed the boundaries over what was previously believed to be possible. This is just one of his incredible songs, check out the improvised solo from 5:11 on: 10. Tosin Abasi - Wave of babies In 2009 this was the most interesting thing that I'd heard in a long time. Tosin Abasi appeared out of nowhere and created an amazing sound! So who's next? Without having a crystal ball it's a bit hard coming up with who the next great guitarist will be of the 10's - but tell you what, Mattias has got to be a good bet. And something extra... Steve Morse - Ted The Mechanic. Steve Morse has done a million great solos so it's very hard to pick one. So here's something a bit out of left field - from Deep Purple's first album with Steve Morse, here's a rockin guitar solo. Split Screen effect with Sony Vegas A friend of mine was wondering how to do a split screen effect with Sony Vegas. I didn't know either, so after much stuffing around here's what I came up with. First off I filmed a 60 second video. The first 30 seconds was me entering from camera left and sitting down. I then left the camera running, stood up, entered the screen from the right and then sat down for another 30 seconds. So starting with three video tracks: Matt 1 image I put the first 30 seconds from the video onto "First Video" track, and the second 30 seconds of the video onto the "Overlay Video" track: Matt 1 image then, click on this magic icon here: Matt 3 image click on this icon. This icon makes the "Overlay Video" a child of the "Matte" video track. I then went to the "Media Generators" tab, and dragged the "Split Screen" onto the "Matte" video track, and dragged it to be of a length of 30 seconds. Matt 4 image I then clicked on the "Compositing Mode" icon on the "Matte" video track, and changed it to be "Multiply (Mask)": Matt 5 image I then right clicked on the split screen video and chose "edit generated media", then changed color 1 to be complete transparent by moving the slider all the way down or entering 0 in the "A" (alpha) box. Then change color 2 to be completely white by moving the slider or entering 255 in R G and B. Matt 6 image Voila. You could then right click on the matte video, choose "Video Event Pan/Crop", and then move the matte image to be exactly where you need it. You could even keyframe it to move it around, which is what I did for this video, notice that the split actually moves a bit to the left. Shoot Em Ups Album Remember those cool games in the 80's where you shot everything in sight? Those were the best games. The music was sometimes pretty cool too - and made even better when bought into the present with some MASSIVE GUITARS. Shoot 'Em Ups This collection features Doom 2, Commander Keen 4, R-Type, Ghouls and Ghosts, Double Dragon, and two tunes from the obscure Japanese PC only shoot-em-up games named Touhou! Track listing: 1. Deep Mountain (Touhou #7 Stage 1) - 03:06 This is the first song that I'd recorded in a while. I went for a different approach with contrasting between the clean guitars and then the monstrously heavy 7-string, and then back to the acoustic. Compositionally wise it's pretty simple, just repeating the main melody 3 times, but it's the arrangement that (hopefully) makes it interesting. Ideally I would have liked to expand the heavy section, but in a short burst it leaves you wanting more. 2. Love Coloured Master Spark (Touhou #8 Stage 4) - 01:55 It's very hard to do justice to the original with this version, so I went for an electronic drum sound similarly to the original, but threw in a keyboard solo at the end because I found such a rad patch. No I can't play the keyboard for nuts. Not yet anyway. 3. R-Type Medley (Arcade) - 06:24 Phew, the first monster. I really wanted to do at least one song from R-Type, so I downloaded all of the music and listened to a bunch of them.. then decided, the more the better right?? So what we've got here is about 5 or 6 stages all thrown together. It was a bit of a nightmare trying to piece them all together into one coherent bit of music - so I basically separated it into medium tempo and fast tempo ones. I'm really proud of the first 40 seconds because that's where the weird time signatures occur! (Though it's all a matter of interpretation, you could argue that it's all 4/4... Mike and I disagree). I decided to do a videoclip for this one: 4. Eat Your Vegetables (Commander Keen 4) - 01:57 I borrowed a friends awesome Warwick bass for a few of these songs and wanted to make good use of it. After playing through Commander Keen 4 for the seven hundreds time (classic game, much better then all the Mario's combined) I decided to do a cover of the super sleazy sounding "Blowfish Tune". It took a while to come up with a good arrangement, and I ended up sticking with almost exactly the same instrumentation as the original, minus a few things. Keeping it sparse added a real cool factor to it. 5. Ghouls And Ghosts (C64 Version Stage 1) - 03:15 In-tune with the game, this one was devilishly hard. The original is such a fantastic song that doing a cover of it seemed like a tragedy... so I ended up doing a bit of both. Most of the song is actually there in the background so this is almost a re-mix not a cover! 6. Dave D Taylor Blues (Doom 2 Stage 8) - 05:17 I've loved this song for years, all the way back to playing Doom 2 on my 486 DX40. It's actually just a really simple 12 bar blues. I tried to replicate the original almost exactly here - even making sure the triplet echo's on the guitar were spot on. For this tune I miked up the amp instead of using Amplitube - what do you think of the tone? 7. Double Dragon Medley (SNES) - 07:43 ARGHGHGHG. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT. Smash his head in! Take that! You can download the Shoot Em Ups Album for free! Next covers album track 2 Track number 2 is a medley of tunes from R-Type: It's an epic 6 minuter that syncs up exactly with the original version. Phew!