Album Review: Xander Demos – Guitarcadia
Posted by Reggie
I always enjoy when I hear of a new artist and I end up really liking them. That’s what happened with Xander Demos. When I first saw this band come across our inbox, I didn’t know if that was a person’s name or it meant something else. The album title, Guitarcadia, didn’t even dawn on me that this might be a guitar virtuoso kind of album. That’s how much I wasn’t paying attention…that is, until I hit the play button. It didn’t take long to hear Joe Satriani-like guitar-mania grace my ear drums. For those of you who know me, I am easily impressed with good quality guitar shredding. Guitarcadia is just what the doctor ordered.
Guitar-based albums can sometimes be quite monotonous. If a guitar album is nothing but solos from beginning to end, the master guitar work becomes its own worst enemy and just gets boring. Xander Demos did a great job of avoiding this pitfall by employing several songs with vocals and doing a couple of classic non-metal covers that turned out quite well – more on those later.
Right Angles immediately begins with a quick drum intro before getting right to the point about the album – melodic guitar solos. Within the first minute of play-time, it’s evident that Xander Demos isn’t just your wannabe guitar star. The song is composed mainly of long solos stung together with a catchy rhythm section. By the time the first song is over my first comparison is to master shredder Joe Satriani.
Initially, I assumed the album would be all guitars, but the third song Under A Darkened Sky, introduced a vocalist and along with the more metal-style riffing and some double bass drum; a higher octane song. The vocal work by Kevin Rasel is impressive. Sometimes vocals on guitar albums can be a little weak, but this song has a strong vocal presence which was showcased due to less evident guitar-work…cool job of Xander letting the guy sing and not trying to subdue him with tons of solos. Don’t get me wrong, there is a solo, but it’s during the designated solo spot…not trying to overshadow the lyrics.
White Knuckle features some atmospheric elements. It brings in a little more depth which keeps the album alive. Overall, White Knuckle is a catchy song; a foot-tapping rhythm that is listening enjoyment. Each song on the album is its own flavor of guitar work. When you listen to the album a few times, each song starts to stand out and I think that is a defining moment when you know the artist gave enough life to the songs to give them individual personality.
The two covers I mentioned earlier are non-metal covers that I thought were brilliant and instantly recognizable. The first one is The Boys of Summer by Don Henley. When this one first started I had to take a second to make sure I knew what I was hearing because I never expected to hear this one turned into a rock song blasted with cool solos. Vocalist Mike Sciullo’s range was right on par with Henley…a close match and he executed the song perfectly; a great cover. I used to hear this song all the time when I was a young pup…MTV liked to play this video. The other cover does not feature vocals, but was still easily recognizable, Lady in Red by Chris DeBurgh.
Overall, the album was a pleasure to listen to. The production seemed a bit lacking, but probably because this was a download promotion. Despite the lack of high quality production, Xander Demos was a treat to listen to and kept my attention all the way to the end. His use of some atmospheres and vocalists made the album well-rounded, energetic, and in line with other great guitar-player artists.