5/25/2005 - Review by: Vinaya Saksena
Joe Stump - Shredology - 2005 - Leviathan Records
What a difference a decade can make! Just over ten years later, things may not have come full circle, but ultra-technical rock guitar is definitely on an upswing commercially. And while Zakk Wylde seems to get the lion’s share of the credit (to read Guitar World these days, you’d think he invented the friggin’ wheel!), guys like Joe Stump also deserve recognition for carrying the torch during the dark ages. What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Joe Stump?!?!? Damn! What are they even teaching you kids in school these days? Sheesh! March right down to your local record store and ask for "Shredology".
Okay, enough silliness! But seriously folks, if you are not hip to the works of Professor Stump (you have heard of the Berklee School of Music, I hope!), then this is a great way to get hip. Although it also serves as a sort of fare-well between Stump and Leviathan Records (European label Lion released his latest, the typically excellent "Speed Metal Messiah"), "Shredology" manages to be more than just a “contractual obligation”-type affair, as it offers tracks from all of his solo releases, plus one from Reign Of Terror’s Conquer and Divide, and a short new piece called “The Drill.” Stump was nice enough to solicit fan requests when deciding the track listing, and the earliest tracks have been remastered, making them sound better alongside the impressively hi-fidelity recordings from his more recent albums. To top it all off, we also get treated to a bonus disc of live tracks recorded at the Midwest Shredfest, originally released in limited quantities via mp3.com.
As for the music itself, most of it is predictably, but lovably over-the-top, instrumental guitar rock, with occasional ballad-like respites to keep it from getting tiresome. Long-time fans can argue about great tracks that didn’t make the cut, and I can name at least a couple that I would have liked to see included. However, I am quite pleased to see that my favorite Stump album, 1994’s "Night of the Living Shred", is well-represented. Furthermore, the two "Guitar Dominance" selections on here sound killer in their spruced-up form, also emphasizing the fact that Stump had much of his technical wizardry comfortably in place early in his career, although as this disc (with it’s chronologically arranged tracks) shows, he has constantly produced riveting stuff, always finding new destinations to explore in the shred landscape. In any case, Shredology serves its purpose as a primer for new converts, while also offering buying incentive for those who already own the Stump catalog. The Midwest Shredfest disc, in particular, is a smoking showcase that is practically worth the price of the whole package. Check out the live “Paganini’s Revenge,” Joe’s killer re-casting of Nicolo Paganini’s 24th Caprice. YEOWZAH!!!
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