"this album is first of all, Super virtuosic- Macalpine has an unbelivebiele Alternate Picking Technice, he plays so fast and still totally clean, he also got some awsome Sweeping chops, and tapping and legato as well... AND he is also amazing on keyboards almost like on the guitar.
The songs are very dramatic, melodic, Classical, Technical, passionfull,Intensive and heavy... my only problem with them is that they are to short... in this album there are guest solos from George Lynch And Jeff Watson, Both of them Crazy shredders and the drums are from two of the most famous drummers in the genre, In some of the Songs it's Atma Anur (Ritchie Kotzen, Jason Becker etc...) And in some of them it's Deen Castronovo (Marty Frieman, Cacophony. Steve Vai etc...),as i said in the title, this is an outstanding album, i prefer this one over Perpetual burn or Time odyssey (although they are two must-buys to for anyone who like this genre),i recommend it to any one that dosent think that "Music without lyrics is boring"..."
Top notch composer and performer
Ian J. Einman | Bellevue, WA | 11/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is guitar playing at its best. If you're new to Tony MacAlpine, he's a classical-influenced guitar player somewhat in the vein of Yngwie Malmsteen, but he is no clone; these songs tend to be meticulously arranged, as opposed to improvisational explosions. (His style is different on later albums, I'm speaking of this album here).I originally became introduced to MacAlpine through Edge of Insanity in the 80's, but I didn't keep up with him and didn't even know he had more instrumental albums. Only in the last few years did I even note he was still cranking them out. I saw it, and I thought to myself "Hmm, I wonder if this is as good as the other one I have?" Well, yes Virginia it is, if not better.Listening to this album, most of the songs grow on you, but the one that stood out to me right away was "Hundreds of Thousands". After listening to it I felt like I just got off the craziest high speed roller coaster, my face red, hair blown back, and barely able to stand. Yngwie's first album was a masterpiece, but he never followed it up with anything similar. Tony doesn't quit, the wealth of excellent instrumental work this man has done is second only to Joe Satriani.If you love this album, check out Edge of Insanity. Also consider Evolution and Premonition, which are a somewhat more modern style, but also very good."
Shai | 02/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a guitarist and first heard MacAlpine in '86 on a "Guitar Player" magazine sound page. I have heard almost every recording Tony has put out and this is still by far his best. Jeff Watson and George Lynch deliver some great solos only to be blown away by Tony! That's how good he is. Contrary to what some might say (including Yngwie), Tony is HARDLY an Yngwie clone. Only a superficial listener would say so. Playing Classically influenced rock does not an Yngwie clone make. If that were the case, ELP, Uli Roth and many others would be Yngwie clones which they are obviusly not. Tony goes for the more up to date (though not necessarily better)sound using a functional Jackson style guitar as opposed to a more traditional guitar like a Strat and he uses a very processed sound. His playing seems to be based more on later Classical composers than Yngwie as well. Tony is also a great classically trained pianist and plays Chopin pieces beautifully - on piano and distorted guitar. I highly recommend this great guitar album to guitar freaks - especially lovers of neo-classical fusion. This is one of the all time best in my book."
Powerful guitar/shred album
James | Seattle | 09/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It always annoys me a bit when people accuse any 80's neoclassical-metal solo guitarist of being an Yngwie clone. First of all, all great musicians in this vein (Tony Macalpine, Vinnie Moore, Jason Becker, etc.) were playing guitar ever since they were young, the same as Yngwie. Similarly, they were playing neoclassical-styled music on guitar, the same as Yngwie. All Yngwie really does is plays dozens of different scales, modes, arpeggios and runs which could be found in any music textbook. Yngwie is a talented musician, but he isn't superlative in the genre, and I feel that there are others who do what he sought out to do, only better.
Tony Macalpine, especially with this early albums, is quite often accused of copying Yngwie. I would disagree with this greatly. The biggest difference between the two is that Tony (early on) was entirely instrumental. Yngwie has NEVER been entirely instrumental. In fact, even on his most instrumental album, (Rising Force) only three quarters of the songs were instrumentals. From there on, his instrumental pieces became even more scarce, not to mention less varied. Tony was somewhat of the opposite, starting out with an entirely instrumental repertoire, and adding in his own vocals later on. Of course, he also went on to experiment with Fusion and other styles of playing (something which Yngwie has yet to do). Tony's early, Neoclassical days were his greatest.
Now that I've cleared up why Tony isn't just "another Yngwie clone," I can move onto a more detailed description of the album. On Maximum Security, Tony demonstrates a focused, melodic, soulful style of playing which is actually quite unique in the shred genre. Tony gives the guitar room to breathe, endowing almost every song on the album with a beautiful, songlike melody that he can modify and solo over as he pleases. His harmonies (contributed by keyboards and bass which are played by Tony himself) add depth and texture to the songs, while his melody lines are quite superb.
Tony's style of playing is surprisingly tone-oriented, with excellent vibrato, bends and expertly used artificial harmonics, left and right. Every song has a distinct 80's sound to it, which is characterized by Tony's tone, drenched in reverb and distortion, but generally sounding smooth rather than harsh. His songs are all on the short side, the average length for the album being somewhere around 3 or 3 and a half minutes. His works are concise and to the point, with much less showing off than one would expect from a shred artist. His songs feel much more like compositions than showcases for his technical prowess, as Tony only really goes full shred sporadically throughout the album. Most of the time, he's fretting along at a medium tempo, sometimes even in a relaxed, luxuriant manner, like on album standouts Tears of Sahara and Porcelain Doll.
Every song on the album is a winner, and there is hardly anything that could be considered filler, except for maybe the Chopin etude (track nine) which Tony threw in, maybe for a tad of variety, maybe for contrast, or maybe to remind us that he's an awesome classical pianist as well as a virtuoso guitarist--just in case we were doubting his musical talent. The etude is a very commonly played piece, but is also of considerable difficulty. It's short and exciting--most serious piano students will tackle it at some point in their career, but Tony's performance of it is quite polished. He's excellent for an amateur pianist.
The rest of the songs are all Tony's original compositions, though he does borrow a theme from Chopin on Porcelain Doll. Several of the songs also feature solos from fellow 80's shredders George Lynch and Jeff Watson, both of whom are very talented guitarists. This only adds more variety and energy to Tony's already magnificent album.
There's not much to complain about with this album. Tony manages to craft a neoclassical album that is original, concise and almost entirely devoid of excess. Unlike more egotistical, showy players of the time such as Vinnie Moore and Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony manages to keep the song lengths short, and the compositions focused, with a strong melody and logical structure instead of just seemingly random shredding.
This is a must-have album for any fan of virtuoso, neoclassical/metal lead guitar work. MacAlpine is an underrated guitar player, who also blesses the album with a great ear for melody/harmony and stellar keyboard skills.
Move Over Joe, Vinnie and Yngwie
Ian J. Einman | 01/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of those albums (cds) that is so damn good, you wonder how you ever got through life without it. The most beautiful and melodic instrumental metal-prog you can possibly imagine, with powerful, tasty drumming and incredible production make this a must-have for music lovers that know better. Just wait till you hear his collaboration with George Lynch on "Tears Of Sahara"--it'll bring tears to your eyes with it's absolutely heavenly sonic aura and killer lead trade-offs. You won't find solos with more feeling and better tones anywhere this side of the universe. And Tony's keyboard playing is right up there with his awesome guitar playing, making him a talented guy of fearful proportions. I have all the Satriani's, Moore's, Malmsteen's, Greg Howe's, etc. on cd and dig them all but find myself pulling this one out just a bit more. It's really THAT good."