Saturday, January 16, 2021

ROXX "Lynze"


(c) 2019 Independent Release

  1. Too Fast To Stop
  2. No Return
  3. Dark Side Of Love
  4. The Vigilante
  5. Break Off Your Walls
  6. Insanity
  7. In The Cold Of The City
  8. The Eye Of The Lynx
  9. Now Or Never
  10. Caballo Salvaje
Rodrigo "Roxx" Bugallo--All Guitars, Bass, Keys, Programming
Goran Edman--Vocals on 3, 5, and 8

Ah, the shred album!  I have always been something of a sucker for a good instrumental album, especially if the guitar player is just insanely talented.  Those Cacaphony discs, Friedman's early solo stuff, Michael Harris Defense Mechanizms, early Satch and Malmsteen and Vai (although he gets a bit weird for me in places)....I love that stuff, especially if I am in just the right mood. They tend to make good workout music for me, also, as I don't find myself distracted by the lyrics.  Actually, that is how I came across Lynze again!  I had digitally purchased Lynze a year or so ago when I first heard some samples, but after I got it, the world went wonky and I never got around to reviewing it.  In fact, I honestly forgot about it until recently, with the continued expansion of my home gym (thank you, Covid!), I have been working out at home exclusively and I started going through some playlists and folders I had made for my iPod and I stumbled across this album once again.  And, man, I am glad I did!

Rodrigo Bugallo is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist who puts his full skill on display on this insanely catchy record!  Yes, from the moment "Too Fast To Stop" kicks things off, there is a lot of speed, a lot of fret tapping, a lot of hammer-ons and pull-offs and whammy-bending, but it is not all six-string masturbation going on here by a long shot!  Bugallo showcases a real feel for heavy guitar writing, particularly evident on tracks like "The Vigilante", which features some deep, melodic riffing to go along with the lightning-speed solo work, or the virtuosity of "Insanity", with its mind-numbing speed balanced with slower, dramatic passages and melodic sweeps.  For all of the intensity of the guitar work, the bass work from Bugallo is also worth mentioning here, as it really adds to the individual songs to have a solid foundation to build upon, especially when the drums are programmed...although they are done very well on Lynze.  

If its the instrumental work that you are here to feast upon, its very hard to pick a favorite, as all are so well done, but for my money it likely comes down to two amazing tracks.  "In The Cold Of The City" is a mid-paced string-bender with progressive elements thrown into the neo-classical mix.  Bugallo blazes through multiple solo sections, but the overall impression of the song is a more soulful, emotionally-charged track, enhanced by interesting almost-tribal drum patterns and deep, in the pocket bass work.  Bugallo truly pulls out all the stops on this amazing track.  If its aggression and sheer speed you crave, then "Now Or Never" is probably going to be your song of choice, as Bugallo comes out flying from the start and never relents.  Fret run after fret run blister through the speakers on this amazing piece of music, and the rhythm guitars and bass frantically charge to keep pace along with the jackhammer drum patterns.  There is a brief keyboard section to allow Bugallo a moment...a BRIEF catch his breath before diving back into another long solo section, and I am left in awe of the note density ever time I hear this track...or pretty much anything on this album, to be honest.  And, if it is variety you are after, you can't sleep on the Spanish guitar stylings of the album's closer, "Caballo Salvaje" ("Wild Horse" if my Spanish is correct).  Yes, it is completely different from everything else here, yet it somehow is a fitting closer and really serves to showcase the overall talent of Bugallo, regardless of style.

For many, while the guitar work is jaw-dropping, the real treat here is going to be the vocal performances from former Yngwie frontman, Goran Edman, on three of these tracks.  In each instance, I am drawn back to Malmsteen's Eclipse and Fire & Ice albums, which I consider to be two of the Swede's true masterpiece records.  Hearing Edman glide across these tracks that are also launching pads for some insanely catchy solos and gorgeous riffing gives me chills, to be quite honest.  In my opinion, Bugallo sounds every bit as good as Malmsteen on these types of tracks, and Lynze is better than anything Yngwie has released in more than a decade or two.  If I had to pick a favorite of the three, it would probably be "The Eye Of The Lynx", with its aggressive opening riff, machine gun drum patterns, and subtle supporting keyboards that all form up to create the sonic bedrock of this earth-rattling rocker.  The solo is, of course, absolutely off the chain, and the rapid-fire pace of the verse and chorus sections is set off nicely by a bridge section that brings things down to a more mid-tempo smolder for a few bars before flaring back to life.  Excellent stuff, but all three of Edman's tracks are top notch and you can't go wrong with any of them.  Ask me again tomorrow and I might tell you "Dark Side Of Love" is the best, with its thumping bass line, 80s-inspired electric drums, AOR-ish keys, and exquisitely layered backing vocals (also Edman, if I understand correctly).  Heck, I could make a case for "Break Off Your Walls" to be the best of Edman's work here, with its galloping rhythm guitars and searing solo section.  They are all three excellent tracks and I have to wonder if these two men won't get together again in the near future to build upon the greatness they have started with Lynze.

I simply love this album, programmed drums and all, and I seem to find something new to like about it with every listen.  As great as the instrumental work is, the composition of these songs is top-notch, as well.  This isn't riffing and running just for the sake of playing as fast as possible; there is thought and intent behind the melted strings and smoldering fretboards left in Bugallo's wake.  Add in the fact that the man handled pretty much everything on this record, and it is breathtaking to me the level of musical talent one beholds when they spin Lynze.  Seek it out, people!  I believe it is still available on Amazon, and even as a digital download album, it is well worth it!

Rating:  Crankable to the extreme!  Crank this to 8...which is about as high as I will likely ever rate an instrumental album...and then shred the dial!  This is some excellent neoclassical speed/power metal!

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