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John Ferns: Axetacy

By Rajarshi Sanyal | July 3, 2007

John Ferns Axetacy Split MagazineI have to admit it. I was slightly prejudiced when I was asked to review an instrumental album by a guitarist from the well-known Indian metal band, Brahma. That’s because I was once witness to a highly unimpressive performance by them. But I thought to myself, I shouldn’t judge them based on that one performance, considering the fact that they’re over a decade old and must have had hundreds of good ones too. And it’s just the guitarist. As far as I could remember, he didn’t stand out as a bad musician, so it’s only fair that I give it a proper listen and not be prejudiced. So here I am, listening to “Axetacy”, the debut album by John Ferns, guitarist for Brahma, one of India’s oldest (and still active) metal acts.

Now that I’ve given it a few spins, I’m going to be as polite as I can. This whole album is a snooze-fiesta right from the start, with forgettable tunes interlaced with highly predictable phrasing of solos. Oh wait, there isn’t any phrasing. All I can hear are tunes picked up from various solos that I’ve heard over the years. If only Mr. Ferns was smart enough to pick the good ones. So basically, you have a bunch of bad, old tunes with a standard 3-4 chord rhythm and the occasional arpeggios and rhythm changes which you’ve heard before. One thing guitarists should understand is that since it’s an instrumental album, one is looking at how well you construct, phrase and present your guitar solos and your rhythm patterns — your backup instruments should be constructed around the tunes rather than doing it the other way around. If only one paid more attention to the basics, a much better sounding album could’ve been extracted from what has inevitably become a predictable and boring mess.

If only more attention was paid to the basics, a much better sounding album could’ve been extracted from what has inevitably become a predictable and boring mess.

“Axetacy (Intro)” is a bunch of older Metallica-meets-Megadeth (think “Holy Wars” clean part) arpeggios put together. “Looking Ahead” really makes me want to look ahead to the rest of the album, waiting for it to get over. The irony is that this guy has been playing for more than a decade and yet the way he composes and plays reminds me of a 14-year-old beginner-intermediate with a slightly better sense of timing. “Modest Star” is a slightly better song with better tunes, albeit predictable. But it’s so odd that such a stalwart musician has yet to perfect his note bends! “Days of Joy” also comes under the better predictable tunes category. “Thundery Sky” is “thunderily” boring. There’s nothing besides a few predictable chord patterns and extremely uninteresting rhythm changes

Just when you thought it was over, you’re hit with “Opus 69″. For a short while I was in deep thought in regard to its nomenclature, then I gave up and realised that I was listening to tunes highly reminiscent of the theme song for The Three Musketeers! That pretty much sums up “Opus 69″. Wait. That’s not true. That’s being unfair on my part. Of course, there’s the random tapping, shredding, dancing, chugging, metal-rock-Metallica-Megadeth endeavours. But hey, I keep mentioning that so many times that it must be getting slightly irritating, eh? Well, now you know how I feel. Ha!


7 Comments. Post Yours Here.
  1. July 5, 2007, 4:53 pm Devika

    This article is well constructed and sums up the album excellently. Great work!!

  2. July 10, 2007, 12:49 pm ANISH

    This review sucks big time. I am john ferns student and i love his music.The writer needs to go beyond metallica/megadeth and listen to more instrumental music to know the technical aspects involved in the compositions and guitar playing.

  3. July 14, 2007, 10:37 am Mars

    I don’t know about this review but I bought the album and I loved it. My favourite song is modest star.

  4. July 23, 2007, 10:08 pm Anuj Gupta

    Keyword: Snoozefest.

    Wait, you said that already.

  5. September 2, 2007, 7:46 pm Kurt Rogers

    Its really a big-time xtascy….and worth of buying. What else….? ROCK IT!!

  6. September 3, 2007, 11:39 am Bhupesh Trivedi

    Indian audiences have got so used to compromising with the nascent Indian scence that anything fills their musical cravings. A good example is Anish, Mars and Kurts comments on the album. And losers like Anish tend to take lessons from non-experimental, dead guitarists’ like John Ferns who are stuck in a time capsule and a fantasy-metal wold. Dude you can make out that the album is a desperate comeback attempt with its artwork (you don’t have to listen to it). Grow up Indian musicians and listeners. How long are musicians gonna sell us crap…and how long are you listeners find solace in crap? God save us…

  7. October 27, 2007, 5:14 pm Kunal

    hello there everybody!!
    keeping in mind the comments of Mr Bhupesh and our very own review master Rajarshi Sanyal, well i need to say just this one thing.. either they are highly sought after and turned out musicians who taught the likes of marty friedman of megadeth or paul gilbert of mr big and solo artist altogether, or they are bunch of people who just like to pass on the comment without any understanding of what actually goes in the constructing and making of each progression and construction of licks, chords arpeggios and things like that!
    guys!! it’s not only the melody, but it’s the passion for melody that a person writes his songs for.. and hats off to the editor’s review.. i’m wondering if u still are keeping that job of being a reviewer coz in my opinion, u’re already sacked.. without using any subtlety, this review absamurfly goes down in one of worst write ups, and no brain attention given to!

    this album makes one hum along.. and after two three spins, a couple of tunes can even linger on in one’s mind.. even though few parts are simple to play, but the assembling of melodies in one shot saves it from a total monotonous.. the monotonous which had no dearth no end attributing to Mr Editor’s review!!
    mr . bhupesh.. i hope u’re already teaching yngwie johann malmsteen by now isn’t it!???? well dude i forgot to mention.. u can carry your sense of humility next time when u go to teach great musicians.. thankyou.. but u neeedn’t thank me for this piece of advice.. even though its expensive but i give it for free for people who’re in bad need for it !!!!!!!

    adios my amigos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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