Jeff Loomis is a modern day guitar God-almost being a Megadeth member...twice! Jeff's history with the bands Sanctuary and Nevermore are unmistakable and his presence has been felt on the metal community for decades. This is his second solo presentation and may certainly be called his best to date.
Plains of Oblivian is an emotional journey full of shredding guitars and mood changing highs and lows; I have listened to it at least 50 times in the last 10 days and am at a loss for words on the sheer overwhelming structure and integrity this guitar playing melds into modern day metal music. Production on this album is rich and full; Aaron Smith does a phenomenal job at the helm. The drumming by Soilwork's Dirk Verburen is also worthy of mention; the guy is a modern day double kick metronome.
With a plethora of special guests, Jeff makes the composition of instrumentals and songs with vox a pleasant mix. The album has some really great shredding songs; "Mercurial" is the opener...Jeff shares the spotlight with Marty Friedman on this one. It's a kick ass, dynamic song full of time changes and lightning fast, finger bending guitar playing. "Ultimatum" is next up-featuring the legendary Tony Macalpine and is certainly one of my favorites; the musicianship on it is just the epitome of what a metal guitar playing should be....the shredding breaks and moody interludes of this song just plain kick ass.
"Escape Velocity" is my favorite of all the instrumentals ; no special guests on this one, just fast, kick ass guitar playing. "Tragedy and Harmony" features Christine Rhoades, who actually did some guest vox on some Nevermore material and it is a roller coaster ; "Which mask will I wear tonight? One that's full of darkness or one with blinding light?" I love this song! The guitar parts are tasteful and fitting for the mood of the song; once again proving Loomis' song writing is superb. "Requiem for the Living" showcases Jeff's classical influences, but also features a solid groove. Another very solid component and somewhat dark at times. "Continuum Drift" is next up-featuring Ex-Megadeth member Chris Poland...it's a little slower paced and dramatic at times; this is where the superb production really stands out...getting the finer notes to stand out and grab you at times! Yet another one of my favorites on the album, "Surrender", featuring Emperor vocalist, Ihsahn, is a grinding, heavy tune. Ishahn is a great contribution to the song and even sings reminiscent of King Diamond. A crushing blend of heavy guitar, phenomenal drums and anguished black metal vocals...SUPERB! I have a feeling that the combination of Jeff and Ishahn could take the metal world by storm!
"Chosen Time" is a dramatic ballad once again featuring Christine Rhoades. A moody song, but very enjoyable nonetheless. The dynamics found within the vocals and guitars are so finely produced here thaat nothing is overplayed. This leads into "Rapture"-another instrumental ballad showcasing, yet again, some very classical influences. The closer for the album is "Sibylline Origin". There is a Dimebag Darrell feel to the groove of this song; it is the right song to close the album as it features many different moods and goes from slow classical style and breaks into a shredding metal solo.
Wrapping up this review is a tough task; this release is musical journey through the wonderful world of metal and phenomenal guitar playing; hitting all facets of superb songwriting. Jeff truly is a guitar virtuoso second to none and this entire album showcases these talents; you will definitely want to hear more Loomis when you're done hearing this LP; and there is only one way you're gonna get more, by supporting him...go purchase it!