When I have the opportunity to write about a person that made me love music and see it from a different side, there comes the beginning of anxiety. I’m talking of course about Jeff Loomis. It all started when this guitar hero in the beginning of 2000 brought the 7 string guitar and embodied it to the music of Nevermore, which so many people love, and created an innovative and original way of playing. Many of his riffs and solos have become part of the history of shred metal. His playing was demonstrated with Nevermore but he managed to do so in his two personal albums. Maybe “Zero Order Phase” did not intrigue all of us but with “Plains of Oblivion” everyone was speechless. This new album not only has great solos and riffs but it also has some of the greatest musicians of all history.
Personally I think that this album is for everyone, it has solos, riffs, amazing lyrics and some of the greatest guests, like Marty Friedman, perhaps the ultimate influence of Jeff Loomis, Tony MacAlpine (underrated for what he has done) one of the greatest guitarists, Chris Poland, one of the lead guitarists of Megadeth with a lot of knowledge of music, especially jazz, Attila Voros , a new guitar talent which was discovered by Jeff Loomis on YouTube. But as I said above we have some songs with lyrics in this album. Guest vocals in this album does Ihsahn from Emperor and it’s a good choice, because his voice has great variety of colors. Christina Rhoades is the second guest vocalist in this album. She and Loomis have cooperated in the past in the song “Dreaming Neon Black” of Nevermore.
The first track of the album is called “Mercurial”, it starts with a fast riff until the solos of Jeff and Marty are mixed and we earn this excellent result. The second track starts with music that shows Jeff’s influences, like Jason Becker’s melodies and arpeggios. Generally the song is calm and the solo of MacAlpine gives colors and melodies until the end, where it literally takes off. “Escape Velocity”, the third song of the album is short in duration but also a large sample of what Jeff can do. A heavy riff in the intro, some crazy solos, tapping and sweeps here and there and a great melody throughout the album.
“Tragedy and Harmony” is the first song with lyrics in this album. In this song the guest is Christine Rhoades. I believe that Jeff couldn’t write a better riff than this. It’s a perfect match to her voice; simply great.
In “Requiem for the Living” unfold all the neoclassical influences of Jeff, highlighted by the great orchestration. “Continuum Drift” comes next. Here I would say that the talent of Jeff and Poland overflows in a quiet song which flows with great melodies and great solos. Easily one of the best moments of the album. The next one song is the one with the vocals of Ihsahn. Great song. I think that this song was meant for no other artist. The vocals are what makes it special and unique, with Jeff just doing what he does best; playing an extreme riff. And after all this great and extreme sounding songs, we have a ballad with Christine Rhoades, and it’s called “Chosen Time”.
One of the things that I admire in Jeff is that he is always chasing the best. I never thought that he would play with classic guitar in his career but it sounds so perfect, and I speak, of course, for the song “Rapture”. It’s a just a small sample of his skills with the classic guitar. And finally “Sibylline Origin” is the last song of the album and the greatest in my opinion. It stars with a bend –riff that would be suit nicely in a Nevermore song, but Jeff fills it with incredible solos and melodies as he usually does.
Reaching the end of the album everyone understands that it’s a personal album, in which the guitar does not use all the space but gives room to all the guests of the album to show their talents. Once more Jeff shows to all of us that he can manage all alone. Guitar fans in general need to add “Plains Of Oblivion” to the top of their shopping list immediately.
|Jeff Loomis – rhythm & lead guitars
Dirk Verbeuren – drums, percussion
Ihsahn – vocal (track 7)
Christine Rhoades – vocal (track 4, 8 )
Chris Poland – lead guitar (track 6)
Attila Vörös – lead guitar (track 5)
Tony MacAlpine – lead guitar (track 2)
Marty Friedman – lead guitar (track 1)
Shane Lentz – bass guitar