The name of Swiss guitar player Brian Maillard should ring a bell when it comes to progressive metal. Being a member of the band Solid Vision, the whole band was asked to record and perform with former Dream Theater vocalist Charlie Dominici. With Dominici he recorded two albums; the second and third ones being the O3 Trilogy. Besides working for those two bands, Brian has (already) released a solo instrumental album called Melody In captivity in 2008.
This time Brian returns to the stage with an all new instrumental album, being accompanied by bass players Max Gelsi on one song, Lorenzo Feliciati, who plays two songs and the famous Bryan Beller on a further composition. The rest of the bass on the album is handled by Brian Maillard himself, as are the keyboards and, of course, all the guitars. On most of the compositions Yann Maillard plays the drums except for one, where Marco Minnemann takes over the drum kit. Reincarnation turns out to be a real guitar-orientated album, with subtle hunches of keyboards and piano, that are delicately used to create a special atmosphere. In the same vein, acoustic guitars sometimes pop up from the back, just to give the song a little more depth. As a guitar player Brian Maillard is influenced by guitarists with several styles. In the compositions on this CD Brian mixes those influences within each song. Sometimes you hear the style of Steve Vai mixed with Steve Morse-related solos and melody lines, as can be heard in Carnivorous Turtle. At other times, Brian is playing heavily on his upper seventh string to create fashionable modern sounds in the line of John Petrucci. Very special is The Pentagon, with funky rhythms and Vai-ish melodies. A cool ballad-type composition is Another Life, where elements of fusion pass by as well. These kind of emotional compositions are the ones that puts the icing on a cake that is called Reincarnation. During this song, the guitar sometimes sounds like an electric violin, mixed with the playfulness of Andy Timmons ' soloing. The album's final composition is a cover. Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is a song I've heard like a million times, in a wide range of varieties and styles. Brian keeps it very close to the original and interprets the vocal lines perfectly on his guitar. Nothing wrong with this version, but for me, I would have liked it more when a less common song would have been Maillardified.
Overall, I think Brian Maillard has delivered a stunning album, with very impressive playing and super compositions. I love the way he mixes his influences to a sort of style of his own, blending raw power with smooth melodies and explosive solos. I would have preferred one more composition of his own over the cover, but I have to credit Brian for his way of interpretation.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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