Total Time: 31:51
Label: Symmetric Records
Ah, the electric guitar. I don’t know if there’s any other instrument that has its obituary written three times a week from the mainstream music press and at the same time every day in the social media another “bedroom warrior” stretches it’s limits a little bit further.
If I had to mention the most influential guitarists that have innovated the instrument and have evolved the techniques, these would be Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen. Throughout the 20th century other wonderful players took from their heritage and added their contribution BUT there was always a problem since day one: How much virtuosity won’t kill the music.
After the recording technology hit massively the market the standardised guitar phrases or “licks” started to appear more often and during the digital age they were everywhere. Every guitarist was copying another and all of them the great masters. The fact led to an explosion of guitar virtuosos that still goes on until today, but it has depraved us more or less the melody and the originality in favour of flashy sixteenth notes patterns. That’s why more or less I kept my distance from the “solo guitar albums” even if I always lend an ear with an open mind to new endeavours.
Having said all that, an album that will draw your attention in 2021 is JOHN MCRIS’ “Ark”.
John is an experienced guitarist and he has the chops for sure. As a multi-instrumentalist, a composer and mixing engineer and the guitarist for the very successful Greek comedy-metal act ANORIMOI, you can find him here and there, on the stage and behind the console collaborating with many contemporary artists. And for his first personal album it’s like he’s making a deal with the listener: “Melody comes first. Chops only when I have to”. And that’s exactly what drew my attention from the first listen. In a world full of shredders, John chooses to be the melodist. And I like that.
Another thing that’s very much to my taste is JOHN MCRIS’ honest approach towards his influences. We’re listening a guitarist that through his playing and compositions pays his respects to his guitar heroes and if I’m right they have to be Andrian Smith and Roy Z. The overall 80’s and 90’s guitar sound combined with inspired sounding keyboards (the Kevin Moore kind of sound I dare say), transcends the listener into a Maiden-like instrumental universe and at the same time it lacks neither the originality nor the experimentation.
Alongside Angelo Glampourush (drums), Bob Minetos (Bass), Vaggelis Tsimpinos, Manos Gavalas and Bob Katsionis (keys) and Niki-Rosa Frei (choirs), JOHN MCRIS’ has created an instrumental album that you can remember. The 8 tracks flow pleasantly from start to finish and when the album finishes you find out that you can hum them themes and leads, hooks and riffs.
Production wise the album is solid as a rock. And there’s no better publicity for a mixing engineer that this. With “Ark”, JOHN MCRIS hits bullseye as a composer and as a mixing engineer; what’s not to like?
Well, nothing, it’s just that “Ark” sounds so promising that I needed some space between 7 and 10 for JOHN MCRIS’ next album J. I hope it won’t take long.
“Ark” will be released by “Symmetric Records” on the 26th of April 2021.
And I’ve already pre-ordered my copy…
Editor: Yiannis Tziallas
Related Link: JOHN MCRIS – Bandcamp Page