Joe Satriani // The Elephants Of Mars // Album Review
The maestro himself Joe Satrianiis back with his latest offering The Elephants Of Mars, full disclaimer I amHUGE Joe Satriani fan and have been a lifetime supporter of Joe, from the very first spin of Surfing With The Alien way back in 1988 when I first heard it, at the time I was in Dublin, Ireland visiting my brother who was living down there and I stumbled across this cassette with this crazy artwork and well the rest as they say is history.
I was a geeky teenager and myself and my geeky teenage friends would hang out in Dublin walking the streets BLASTING Surfing With An Alien on a ghettoblaster (I Shit You Not) as loud as we could to educate the masses. And educate we did, talking to anyone who would take the time to tell us to “Shut the hell up!” At the time Joe’s ‘Ice Nine’ was being used as the theme tune to Raw Power a Heavy Metal tv show on terrestrial TV at 2am on a Saturday night in the UK and Ireland, so after a night out you’d be turning it on and getting a blast of Joe in the face before you were treated to an hours worth of video’s of the best Rock & Metal of the day. Weirdly though Joe and his peers rarely featured even on this show, and you wondered how in god’s name does an artist such as he in such a niche genre reach his audience? Many sleepless nights of course would follow. Stressing about Joe and his fate as an instrumental guitarist, 1st work problems I know, but what else do you worry about as a teenager in the late 80’s, we didn’t have the internet, I was too poor to afford guitar mags to see if Joe was doing okay!
As it turn out he was grand, 36 years after his debut solo album was launched and coming up on his 19th studio album to be released April 8th I think he’s found his stride? I jest of course, what Joe has achieved is nothing short of astounding, his consistency as an artist not only in producing a body of work of such quality across three decades, but his consistency to churn out that work against the adversity of an industry that stifles artists every chance they can, in such a niche market as an instrumental rock guitarist through the 80’s hayday of hair metal, 90’s grunge, 00’s Nu-Metal and so on and so on is just mind-blowing.
I often feared for the guitar and its journey, who was going to follow the likes of Satriani, Vai,Malmsteen,Gilbert and Bettencourt? These masters of the art, the pioneers of the modern day guitar gods, thankfully as with everything in life there will always be a way, and in recent years we have seen a plethora of young artists who are taking the mantle and running with it, Tim Henson & Scott LaPage of Polyphia,Tosin Abasi & Javier Reyes of Animals As Leaders,Andy Jameswho’s modern metal approach still Fues melodic lines as Satriani does, these guys to name but a few are shining a light for the new generation to follow and it’s almost scary as to where they can take it. The modern day guitarist has every opportunity to create and get your music out there with the click of a button, no need to bankrupt yourself as Satch almost did with his first debut release Not Of This Hart, credit cards maxed out and debt collectors on the phone, an Apple Mac and an audio interface and you’re good to go, there has never been a better time to be a musician than now to do what you do, the only obstacle is how invested are you in your craft and what you will determine is success or failure.
36 years on and a lifetime of loving his craft Joe Satriani returns with yet another boundary pushing album, The Elephants Of Mars. His first album using no amps!!! #shockhorror For many in the guitar world this is just SATCH-RELIGIOUS (Did you see what I did there?) but Joe always pushes himself with every album he releases, stepping outside his comfort zone, pushing himself as an artist, and thus far his instincts have been pretty good.
The beauty of a Satriani album is that regardless of whether it was played through an amp or not, the guitar work is all Satriani. Joe has his signature style which from the opening lines of the lead single ’Sahara’ just make you feel at home. It’s a subtle track by Satch’s standards, a little bit like ‘Flying On A Blue Dream’ he’s just lung you into a false sense of security before he takes it up a notch. ‘The Elephants Of Mars’ is that notch as Joe starts to get gnarly, with fatter guitar tones, octaver’s and those blistering fingers.
‘Faceless’ takes it down a notch and the mere mortals out there who plays guitar may have a moment where they think, “I could maybe play that one” or so we think, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt! A lovely tune that allows you t catch your breath in-between the chaos. The beauty of an artist like Joe is that there really aren’t too many limitations as to where he can go musically, apart from the limitations he places on himself, he’ll know if it’s all getting to whacky and out of the Satriani mould into something else, but tracks like ‘Sailing The Seas Of Ganymede’ push this boundaries and allow Joe to express himself freely, and that’s what we’re all here for right? Or E 104th St NYC 1973 take you on a journey that’s not your typical Joe track, but a great insight to the life and time of this stellar musician. ‘Through A Mothers Day Darkly’ takes you on another fantastical sonic journey that mesmerises and by the time you have gone through the fourteen tracks and the album closer ‘Desolation’ which has an almost Freddie Mercury & Queen cinematic/theatrical quality to its delivery, you will need time to reflect and absorb what you have just taken in.
Yet another glorious album by one of the modern day legends, it just doesn’t get any better than this.
New Studio Album – “The Elephants Of Mars”
In Stores April 8, 2022, via new worldwide partnership with earMusic