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Steve Vai - The Ultra Zone CD (album) cover

THE ULTRA ZONE

Steve Vai

 

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3.65 | 78 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Guitar-virtuoso Steve Vai sends us another collection of excellent, personality-filled, artful hard rock jamming with Ultra Zone, his 5th release. More so than his other works that I've heard, this one is all about Steve's fingers doing crazy things to his guitar. Half of the songs on this album are instrumental set pieces, each with a distinct vibe and varying shred-factor. Vai is a killer player, and if you're into guitar and rock, it's hard to be disappointed. Each of these instrumentals (which take up the entire first side of the album), are crisp, modern, and filled with personality. While none of it is especially daring or experimental from a songwriting perspective, Steve's playing makes them a lot of fun; great for some rocking background grooves, but also creative enough to reward careful listening. Some make more of an impact than others, but all are solid. Vai handles vocals for the remaining songs, which are also great. There's an inherent likability when it comes to Vai's playing that makes this work easy to enjoy.

For many listeners, Ultra Zone will be a fun rock album with crazy guitar effects; for musicians aficionados, it could be an academic experience. I sit somewhere in the middle. I had a lot of fun with Ultra Zone, but was left wanting more in terms of scope or composition. That seems crazy to say, given Vai's pedigree, but I didn't feel a sense of build or drama with this release; each song could be taken on its own, and while a great experience when taken in isolation, the album as a whole doesn't drive home a musical message beyond a sense of playfulness. This isn't a bad thing, just something that makes Ultra Zone a good but not great release for me. Lots of fun when the mood strikes.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |

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