Taking the Lead
Now for more serious fans of the instrumental shred stuff, Elias Viljanen’s taking the lead is nothing new, it was originally released in 2002 but is seeing a re-release in 2011. On the other hand, to the instrumental shred genre, Taking the Lead was by no means groundbreaking.
The primary claim to fame for Elias Viljanen is his membership in Sonata Arctica, which for all it’s respect within the power metal circles for their earlier albums, has had a rapidly declining guitar presence, and he really didn’t impress too much on the Days of Grey.
About the music, while Elias Viljanen is certainly a technically capable guitarist, he doesn’t show too much on Taking the Lead, the shredding and flourishes take a back seat to the melodies and song structure. What Taking the Lead seems to resemble, more often than not, is an album of hard rock instrumentals. Riff based, a tad repetitive, and not too flashy. The issue is that the primary vehicle of the songs is the lead, and the rhythms are nothing special. While Viljanen certainly fills an album with impressive melodies, they’re not quite on par with some of his peers in the business.
In fairness though, the song Hyper Boogie has to be mentioned. This represents a rare feat in balancing technicality, taste, and creativity, and Elias certainly has to be commended for that. The album as a whole is tasteful more than any of the other two, but it’s really the creativity of Hyper Boogie that sets it apart.
Taking the Lead has one major strength in consistency and listen ability, but that only takes the album so far, while it’s certainly above the pale, it falls short of extraordinary, and ends up instead in the realm of very solid, it’s a good investment for a more casual listener, though I doubt it will do much for the diehards.
Dagg's Rating: 3.25/5