AUGUST 15th 2015

Review by: Metal Mom

Released: April 14th via Rat Pak Records

I have the honour of  reviewing this CD, and I am not sure what to expect. I do know that Michael Angelo Batio is considered a pioneer of the shred guitar genre. I have to admit, I haven’t heard Michaels name before, or even aware of his music, don’t know where I have been during these years, but I love to take on music that I have no previous experience with. I can tell you that this album has debuted in at #11 on the Billboard Hard Rock charts, and #2 on a newer Billboard chart called Heatseekers. This also has my interest peeked.

So I dug around for a little back history, and I think its worth sharing, so you can get the real picture of what this man is capable of. So sit back and take in the history lesson: Michael is known worldwide for his amazing fretwork, his ingenious and original live shows, and is one of the designers and pioneers of the entire "Shred" guitar genre. Michael demonstrates guitar techniques and innovations, for the first time, on his early educative programs as well as in live performances, that are now considered "Standard” among guitarists around the entire world. He also has the 2nd highest, most watched video from the "That Metal Gear" segment of "That Metal Show" in the history of the show. Michael Angelo Batio was named the # 1 “Fastest Guitarist of All Time” in 2011 by Guitar World Magazine Readers Poll. Over 440,000 votes were cast.

Did you know that Michael invented and was the world’s first player of the Double-guitar. He was, and he is well known for his inventions such as the MAB "Over-Under" Technique, the V shaped twin "Double-Guitar" and the 4 neck "Quad Guitar".  In 2012 his Dean “Jet” Double-Guitar was put in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio as a permanent display. So that is your history lesson (and mine) for now. Let’s get on with the review.

“Shred Force 1: The Essential Michael Angelo Batio” features over 20 guest stars and several new vocal tracks. Considered to be a pioneer of the “shred guitar” genre, this album rules, I can only imagine his previous works, because this is really a classic in the making. To tell you the truth, I didn’t expect to enjoy an album that was mostly shredding, I couldn’t have been more wrong, in fact I am having some trouble completing this review. I am listening and listening and doing it all over again, I get so into the music that I forget what I want to say. I really enjoyed the talent behind the man. But you also get some well known musicians from the rock to heavy metal, taking it far beyond expectations. The album features an outstanding performance, Michaels own version of Rush’s “What You’re Doing”, featuring Queensrÿche vocalist Todd LaTorre, Metal Church guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof, Alice Cooper bassist Chuck Garric, Metal Church/TSO drummer Jeff Plate and guitarist Craig Blackwell. It really is an accomplishment to put so many artists, music all together and have it excel to such an exquisite sound. It’s pretty obvious after listening that there was a lot of time and effort put into this album to give such an outstanding performance. Listen and you will also hear a cover to Deep Purple’s “Burn” with Queensrÿche vocalist Todd LaTorre,  Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti. You will also hear Michael’s tributes to Eric Clapton (“Slowhand”), Randy Rhodes (“RRR”) that features Rudy Sarzo on bass, and a new version of Michael’s unique tribute (“Diamond”) to the late great Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott of Pantera, that features guitarist Michael Wilton of Queensrÿche.

The album also has some notable instrumental tracks such as, “8 Pillars of Steel” with guest appearances by Elliott Dean Rubinson, Dave Reffett, Jeff Loomis, Rusty Cooley, George Lynch, Andrea Martongelli and Craig Goldy, “Juggernaut” showcases ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland, Dave Reffett, Annie Grunwald, Guthrie Govan, Mike Lepond, and Michael Romeo.

Track Listing:

01. Hands Without Shadows
(featuring Bobby Rock and William Kopecky)
02. Burn
(featuring Todd LaTorre and Mark Tremonti)
03. Juggernaut
(Featuring Chris Poland, Dave Reffett, Annie Grunwald, Guthrie Govan, Mike Lepond, and Michael Romeo)
04. What You’re Doing
(featuring Todd LaTorre, Kurdt Vanderhoof, Chuck Garric, Jeff Plate and Craig Blackwell)
05. 8 Pillars of Steel
(featuring Elliott Dean Rubinson, Dave Reffett, Jeff Loomis, Rusty Cooley, George Lynch, Andrea Martongelli, Craig Goldy)
06. Call To Arms
(featuring Dan Lenegar, William Kopecky and John Mrozek)
07. 2X Again
08. Slowhand
(Featuring Warren Dunlevy Jr.)
09. Diamond
(featuring Michael Wilton, Elliott Dean Rubinson)
10. Rainforest
11. Gotta Run
(featuring Dan Lenegar, William Kopecky and John Mrozek)
12. No Boundaries
13. RRR (featuring Rudy Sarzo and Bobby Rock)

Video: “Burn”

Truly Michael Angelo Batio’s “Shred Force 1” is a must have for all fans of the shred guitar genre. Michael alone would have made this a great listen, but he gave us so much more by adding in some very talented musicians.  I am also one that has never really enjoyed any remakes of any kind, but Michael has changed my mind completely on that. I now have to check out some of his previous works. But please, if you want to check out a Michael Angelo Batio album, make it this one, you will NOT be disappointed.

There is no shortage of music from this talented man, want more, then check out:
No Boundaries (1995)
Holiday Strings (1996)
Planet Gemini (1997)
Tradition (1999)
Lucid Intervals and Moments of Clarity (2000)
Lucid Intervals and Moments of Clarity Part 2 (2004)
Hands Without Shadows (2005)
2 X Again (2007)
Hands Without Shadows 2 – Voices (2009)
Backing Tracks (2010)
Intermezzo (2013)
Shred Force 1 (The Essential MAB) (2015)

'SHRED FORCE 1' USA tour will take Michael to over 20 cities in the USA, these are the remaining dates:

AUG 15 - Alamo City Music, San Antonio, TX
AUG 16 - House of Rock, Corpus Christi, TX
AUG 19 - Club Red, Mesa, AZ
AUG 20 - Count's Vamp'd, Las Vegas, NV
AUG 22 - The Whisky-A-Go-Go, West Hollywood, CA
AUG 23 - Rockbar, San Jose, CA
AUG 25 - Sunshine Studios Live, Colorado Springs, CO
AUG 26 - Blue Bird, Denver, CO
AUG 28 - Fubar, St. Louis, MO
AUG 29 - The Agora Theater, Cleveland, OH
SEPT 03 - Reggie’s, Chicago, IL
SEPT 11 - Tailgaters, Bolingbrook, IL
SEP 18 - Next Door, Honolulu, HI
OCT 02 - Hell Creek Music and More, Glendive, MT
OCT 03 - The Retro Theatre, Glendive, MT