Genre: instrumental progressive metal
When virtuoso guitarists release instrumental solo albums, my experience is that these albums fall under two categories. The first one is the category of pointless self-indulgent, solo-fixated shredding and the second one that of is well-integrated solid music where all aspects of guitar playing are featured and given attention. Paul Wardingham's brilliant debut album Assimilate Regenerate fortunately falls under the latter category.
Assimilate Regenerate is not only a shred-fest. No, Wardingham shows that he takes songwriting and rhythm guitar playing just as seriously as he does the lead guitar work and the shredding. Thus, all tracks on the album a built around very strong and solid riffs, many of which have a certain sense of groove to them, and all of which are performed with mechanical precision - and by mechanical precision I mean that Wardingham does not miss a note (so, yes, it's a complement). I do not mean to say, that Assimilate Regenerate is void of emotional appeal, because it isn't. In fact the many guitar lid melodies have a lot of feel to them, and they are generally very catchy and memorable - you can hum along to them, and the goes to show that Paul Wardingham is about much more than just mindless shredding.
Now, Wardingham is a guitar virtuoso, and he is capable of some very impressive soloing and blazing shredding, and he does perform a lot of impressive technically advanced soloing, but this never comes across as purposeless or self-indulgent, because the music on the album is so well-balanced; the shredding and the leads are thus not just impressive, they actually fit into the overall music as an integrated element, which is something that scores a lot of points in my book.
Genre-wise, we are dealing with progressive metal (or cyber metal, which is Wardingham's own term), and at times quite aggressive progressive metal, as several of the compositions include uptempo thrashy drumbeats accompanying equally thrashy riffage - but, as hinted at above, melody is an integral element of this album, so you can expect lots of accessible and appealing melodies in addition to the all out butt-kicking massive metal riffage. I do not really understand the cyber metal label, I must admit, but I assume that it is either a reference to the overall sci-fi theme (another element that scores many points in my book) or a reference to the electronic elements that pop up every now and then.
Well, genre-babbling aside, Assimilate Regenerate is an extremely well put together instrumental metal album which should appeal to melody-, groove-, and riff-loving fans of progressive metal, and fans of shredding and blazing solos should also check out Paul Wardingham's Assimilate Regenerate.
(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)