~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
There's one very nice thing about Theodore Ziras's newest CD: it has an extremely obvious target audience. Fans of instrumental neo-classical shredding metal, rejoice! This CD is for you. Unfortunately, I'm not so sure it's for the rest of us, but we'll get to that in a second. If you like Yngwie Malmsteen or other neo-classical shredders, and perhaps never appreciated the annoying vocalists they hire (or have something against acoustic drums), then you really can't go wrong with Virtual Virtuosity. It is a fine CD for the style, with plenty of sweeping, grand neo-classical melodies and fast solo bits.
You might have guessed I'm leading up to some negative commentary. You'd be right. In addition to the one nice thing about this CD, there is one very glaringly painfully obviously bad thing about it - we have heard it before, so, so, so many times. If you have heard any Yngwie Malmsteen CD, you know exactly what to expect from Virtual Virtuosity. The only real exception is the more Metallica-ish neo-classical ballad, "Evermore..." I suppose you could also throw in the rather interestingly exotic solo from "The Edge."
Those two songs aside, you get 9 tracks of hyper shredding straight out of the mid to late 80's. If this style still excites you, Ziras's work will suit you just fine. I find it much more listenable than Malmsteen if only for the lack of vocalists (I can hardly tell a difference between their guitar playing). I'm assuming most of you have heard this style before in some form, but it mainly consists of fast scales and (mostly sweep-picked) arpeggios culminating in a classical sounding melody of some sort (usually Baroque-era), whereupon the main melody notes are often extended pompously and enhanced with a smattering of vibrato or, er, pinch harmonic...ing...
If, on the other hand, you enjoy guitar for actual classical playing, you'll find this style lacking greatly in complexity, tone, and emotion. If you come from the fusion camp, you'll find it lacking the insane speed via complicated licks - Ziras and his contemporaries pretty much stick to scales and arpeggios, no unusual or crazy music like you'd expect from Shawn Lane, Chris Poland, or weirder still, Bumblefoot. I'm content to leave this style behind forever, but I'd feel a little bad about being too hard on Ziras. Let's hope he tries something less obviously 'Yngwie' in the future - for now, enjoy it if it's a style can't get enough of, avoid it if it isn't.
Theodore Ziras is:
Theodore Ziras - Official Website:
Secret Port Records: