Monday, September 5

Niels Vejlyt - Sthenic

Niels Vejlyt


Following in the footsteps of the great neoclassical shred guitarists, Danish axeman Niels Veljyt has taken time away from Infinity Overture, My Empty Room and his own online guitar school to release his sophomore album Sthenic, a marked improvement from début The Predator in both production and composition. It's relatively short at 40 minutes, but full of proof of his abilities, mixing in various metal styles such as heavy, melodic and progressive.

Enlisting the help of Kris Gildenlöw (ex-Pain Of Salvation) on bass and Jakob Vand (Infinity Overture) on drums, Vejlyt sets out to explore various fretboard techniques such as arpeggios, taps, sweeps and sustained notes, akin to his forefathers Satriani, Vai and Malmsteen, but unfortunately also succumbs to one of their faults: there are very few of the simpler chord progressions and riffs themselves, which means the songs are more divided sections that are repeated, such as in “Rain”. His guitar is like a vocal instrument rather than a stringed instrument, forming complicated and meandering lines that are less memorable than the power-ballad-like sustained notes such as on opener “Heads Up”.

To give the other musicians their credit, Gildenlöw and Vand hold up their ends very well. The bass is audible in several parts, including one multi-layered guitar section in “Die Today” which is particular chaotic. The drums play an interesting role in “My Little Rascal”, opting for a slow groove while Vejlyt flies quickly with tap after sweep, slowing down only when “Kajsa” commences, an interesting ballad intertwining just piano and guitar, and then finishing with the lengthy closer “Winter”, a relaxed acoustic riff and floating bassline that abruptly breaks out into the heaviest song of the lot, in a vibe reminiscent of Symphony X. Certainly an attention-grabbing finisher, but it unfortunately makes the middle tracks slightly forgettable in the build-up.

The world 'sthenic' means “possessing a high level of strength and energy”, and that is certainly the case here. For those that enjoyed John Petrucci's Suspended Animation or the work of Michael Romeo, this comes highly recommended, as well as for any guitar enthusiasts or newcomers to the shred style.

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Angel's rating: 3.75/5

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