Maximum Metal Rating Legend
5 Excellent - Masterpiece. A classic.
4.5-4 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a lacking.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio.
2.5-2 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors.
1.5-1 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible - Waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.
Joe Stump
Armed And Ready
Leviathan Records
Hard Rock
7/19/2004 - Review by: Vinaya Saksena
Joe Stump - Armed And Ready - Leviathan 2003 Reviewed by: Vinaya

Track Listing
1. Mind Games
2. Prisoner Of Time
3. Day Of Doom
4. Hurricane X
5. Chasing Rainbows
6. Armed And Ready
7. Hot Nights
8. Destination
Few guitarists do what Joe Stump does for shred guitar and the technique-crazy culture surrounding it. Whether he’s sweep-picking up a storm on his solo albums, creating metal mayhem with Mike Vescera in Reign Of Terror (and apparently the new Obsession lineup), or teaching fleet-fingered young hopefuls the tricks of the trade at Boston’s Berklee School Of Music, he’s doing his part for the love of shred.

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little cheesy here, but on the heels of several well-received releases over the last decade comes yet another fine shred-fest in Armed And Ready. And while some may brush it off as merely more of the same, the album is distinguished from his previous work by its status as part of Leviathan’s Guitar Masters Series. Conceived by label head and fellow fret-burner David T. Chastain, this series consists of several recordings by different guitar virtuosos, all putting their stamp over fairly Spartan bass and drum patterns from Chastain and drummer Mike Haid. The idea was to capture aspects of the players’ styles not often heard in their own compositions, by forcing them to play outside their personal “boxes,” if you catch my drift.

And for fans of intense instrumental rock guitar, the results hardly disappoint. Sure, a couple of the songs drift on a bit longer than necessary, and it would have been nice to have more full and expansive production values. Overall, however, I found Armed And Ready to be a fairly enjoyable listen, though I ha ve yet to hear the other Guitar Masters releases. To my ears, the middle portion of the disc comes across the strongest, with my three favorite tracks all in a neat little row. “Hurricane X” is a mid-tempo shuffle that pays homage to Ritchie Blackmore, while “Chasing Rainbows” is a cool fast rocker that features some of the most intense playing on the album (personally, I think the titles of these two songs should have been swapped).

The title track is a nice, meaty, no-frills (well, not really) hard rocker that provides a welcome easing of the pace. Stump provides good track-by-track liner notes, letting us know what he was thinking and what influenced his playing on each track. Personally, I don’t hear some of the things he alludes to (like the supposed aping of Michael Schenker on “Prisoner Of Time”) all that clearly; To my ears, it all sounds pretty much like Joe Stump. But hey, that’s not a complaint (I mean, like, one could do a lot worse).

Anyway, when it comes do wn to it, Armed And Ready is certainly a quality release, but if you want a real taste of what Stump is all about, I would suggest checking out his original compositions via his other solo releases, or (for the instrumental-shy) one of the Reign Of Terror albums.

Rating: 7

--Vinaya 07.19.04

Armed And Ready
Leviathan Records
Vinaya Saksena7/19/2004
Leviathan Records
Vinaya Saksena5/25/2005

Joe StumpVinaya Saksena10/25/2013
Joe StumpVinaya Saksena9/23/2004

<< back >>