John Ferns: Axetacy
I 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!