Irrelevant Troubadour

Allan Holdsworth, Metal Fatigue
January 15, 2011, 7:40 pm
Filed under: music

This is my third post for the TV Tropes Album Exchange Club.  It’s a review of Allan Holdsworth’s Metal Fatigue.

This album reminds me of King Crimson’s 80s post-punk stuff and Frank Zappa’s jazz fusion albums. I’m big fans of those albums, but this album didn’t really grab me. Why? After all, this album shares Discipline ‘s wonderful washes of guitar notes (and accomplishes them with one guitar, whereas King Crimson needed two!) and Hot Rats ‘s crazy, unconventional chord structures. This is fantastically intelligent and well constructed music.

I suppose the reason I didn’t really get into this album is that while it shares the technical and compositional skill of those two aforementioned albums, it’s lacking the feeling that drives those albums. It doesn’t have the nervous adrenalin that drives Discipline or the anarchic freakiness behind Hot Rats. Instead, it’s just a very good showing of technical virtuosity. Don’t get me wrong, there is some emotion here—I especially like the hopeful, driving “Panic Station”—but in general this album is rather lifeless.

In terms of more specific critiques, the very 80s production didn’t bother me all that much, and indeed is probably at least partially responsible for one of my favorite things about this album, Holdsworth’s godly guitar tone. The vocals, on the other hand, were severely lacking, seeming like something of an afterthought. And did the otherwise cool rhythm-epic “The Un-Merry-Go-Round” really need a fucking drum solo? The correct answer is no, because no song needs a fucking drum solo.

This is definitely a good album, but not one that I can honestly say I enjoyed. It just sounded a bit too staid for me. Perhaps if I were a guitarist I would be able to get more excited about it, but I’m not, so I approach music like this on an emotional rather than technical level, and on the emotional level this album was pretty lacking.

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