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Simonz, Kelly - 2002 Sign Of The Times


KELLY SIMONZ'S BLIND FAITH - SIGN OF THE TIMES (2002, LION MUSIC)
Kelly Simonz - vocals, all instruments

Background
Kelly Simonz is a guitar and studio virtuoso from Osaka Japan. Despite all the misgivings about his undoubted Yngwie Malmsteen influence, there are other elements which are influential, perhaps names like Vicious Rumors or Symphony X spring to mind - combining together for a complete neo classical/hard rock experience. Now, ordinarily I'd dismiss albums like this straight away - as past 'widdly diddly' efforts from some of Kelly's contemporaries have left me somewhat cold. Only guys like Tony MacAlpine and Greg Howe have done anything remotely interesting to my ears. However, upon slapping this album into the 'melo-deck' CD player, I was convinced enough to play this right the way through. The first thing that struck me was Kelly's inate sense of 'feel', which is a term few modern guitarists know about, let alone 'felt'. There are some soaring solos amongst the hard rock bludgeon. The entire production undertaken by Kelly is excellent. A fair bit of attention has been placed on these tracks with the songs being a mix of instrumentals and vocal driven pieces. The latter veers close to the 'Odyssey' era of Yngwie Malmsteen, as they are rich with emphasis on huge choruses and killer solos. Admittedly, the classical styles permeate throughout, but unlike other efforts, they do not hinder the music.

The Songs
A sombre church organ precedes 'Eternal Flame', followed by supersonic drums, harpischord flurries and a Malmsteen like solo. It was like being transported back to 1988 listening to 'Odyssey'. next track 'Still', is a commercial sounding effort, touched on by some ambient piano lines. 'King Of The Castle' returns to the top-heavy riff-fest, mixing grandiose passages with guitar fury. 'Blind Faith' has some grunge type riffing going on, but features two tempo changes mid song: firstly to a 1800's classical accompaniment, then secondly to a Malmsteen type solo yet again, before returning to the riff-laden theme of the song. it's clever, and different. 'Sign Of The Times' is a pure neo classical/HM workout, while my two favourite songs would be the impassioned instrumental 'Cry For You' and the awesome 'Stay In My Heart' - which is a gorgeous melodic rock workout with subtle vocals, strong guitars and lovely accompanying keys. On the quieter side: 'Solitude' showcases Kelly's impressive acoustic style, as does the workout on 'Suite In B Minor BWV 1067'. The strangely named 'Pain' is anything but. A sweet flamenco piece you'd normally expect someone like Rik Emmett to play.

In Summary
Certainly a turn-up for the books, and considering we've moved on a decade or two since the likes of Akira Takasaki and Kyoji Yamamoto were doing the rounds with their respective outfits, you can pencil the name of Kelly Simonz as a Japanese guitar-slinger to watch out for in the future.

URL: www.kellysimonz.com

Track Listing:
01 Eternal Flame
02 Still
03 King Of The Castle
04 Solitude
05 Blind Faith
06 Sign Of The Times
07 Suite In B Minor Mwv1067
08 Cry For You
09 Serpent In A Paradise
10 Pain
11 Stay In My Heart
12 Blind Faith (Live)

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