Steve Vai The Ultra Zone

Passion & Warfare was the last great guitar wank record. No one since — not even Vai himself — has been able to match the eclectic mix of experimentation, studio effects, virtuosity and plain ol' weirdness that makes that album, to this day, a treat to listen to. The Ultra Zone’s first five songs attempt to break new ground with “The Blood and Tears” utilising Indian chants and “Frank” referencing Frank Zappa. While the opening quintet of tunes is an excellent display of Vai's well known guitar skill, they lack the expected eccentricity. It's when Vai gets into writing ’80s-type pop metal, featuring both millions of solos and Steve singing that this disc starts to sink quicker than the Montreal Canadiens’ playoff hopes. As talented as Vai is, he's still rooted in tired ’80s rock clichés. (Epic)