The Finnish guitarist, Euge Valovirta, is undoubtedly one of the most prominent metal guitarists of his generation, having starred in numerous A-list bands such as GODSPLAGUE and SUBURBAN TRIBE on top of featuring as a hired hand in line-ups such as CHILDREN OF BODOM, HEVISAURUS, and KIUAS. As of late, Valovirta has been busy with two Scandinavian metal groups, CYHRA and RED WOLF, but it hasn’t stopped him from writing material on the side for his sophomore solo album, “Shooting From the Hip,” which is due to be independently released on June 30th, 2021, via all major streaming and downloading platforms. The new outing features ten guitar-driven instrumentals oozing with the vintage aura of the 1980s guitar legends such as Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, and Eddie Van Halen. On repeated spins, it becomes apparent that Valovirta also has a soft spot for groove metal riffing á la Dimebag Darrell – and one of the tracks even features an onslaught of Hillbilly-styled chicken-picking. So, obviously, here’s one amazing axe-slinger but instead of a pumped-up shred-fest, Valovirta‘s new solo offering is a fine-tuned and intricate tour de force of class-A musicianship.
The album kicks off with the track, “Scary Frankie,” channeling all the pastel shades of the mid-1980s better than VAN HALEN ever did. The song pays homage to the golden era of heavy metal and hard rock so authentically that it makes me feel like I ought to listen to it wearing a vintage Lacoste polo shirt and Ray-Ban aviators while watching Top Gun on mute. Let me tell you, here is a pied piper who yields no poor cluster of notes. Yes, sure, the golden summers of my childhood days were soundtracked by music like this and I’m probably nostalgia-tripping madly right now. Nonetheless, it is no small feat to write such a hauntingly evocative narrative with music that is exclusively instrumental. Well, some of the best guitar legends made it work in 1987, so technically there is no reason why the same recipe wouldn’t work in 2021 – it does when you’re skilled enough.
VAN HALEN is also referred to in the title of the track, “Pasadena ’78.” As it happens, this pioneering hard-rock outfit evolved into a cataclysmic musical force in Pasadena, California, in the late 1970s. The song resonates strongly with the feel-good hard-rock vibes that were the trademark of Eddie Van Halen & co. – so much, actually, that you almost begin to miss the vocals of some David Lee Roth-esque master of ceremony.
Some of the song titles feel like working titles. Take the tracks “Bogrenious” or “Three-Legged Chicken,” for example. Undoubtedly, the latter refers to the chicken-picking extravaganza incorporated in the song, whereas the first-mentioned probably refers to the Swedish producer, Jens Bogren. I cannot say for certain to what extent the song features Bogren-like sonic characteristics when it comes to the production but in terms of music, the song is a marriage of the 1990s-tinted groove metal and the Randy Rhoads -era Ozzy Osbourne classics. The album track titled “The Flame is Burning” features somewhat similar sonic references to the vintage hits by the Prince of Darkness. You simply cannot go wrong with anything like that!
Further down the road, “Uncle Joe,” sounds like a fine tribute to Joe Satriani. With a few clever wah-wah blurts, resonating with the Chi energy of the universe, Valovirta weaves sonic waves upon which our shattered, alienated souls can surf smoothly. In addition to the album’s somewhat pastel-shaded vintage feel, there is one epithet that best describes its overall aesthetics and the adjective is “good-vibey.” Yes, even despite the fact that the album closes with the ballad, “A Song For An Absent Friend,” which Valovirta wrote to honor the memory of his friend Aleksi Laiho, who passed away in the end of 2020. Of course, an instrumental album must have one ballad – and why not, as long as it is executed this gracefully.
Valovirta has crafted a cohesive collection of excellent songs that transform class-A guitar tricks into emotion in such a prominent manner that it overpowers language itself. The music does not need lyrics because it speaks for itself. Yes, it may be a bit of an old-fashioned and vintage manner of speaking, but it speaks loudly. It is kind of appropriate, since this is exactly the sort of music that is best served with the volume cranked to the max. So, pump up the volume and let the music take you on a trip down the memory lane back to the 1978 Pasadena! Dance the night away, and dance like no one is watching.
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- Scary Frankie
- Pasadena ’78
- The Bad Boy
- This Box Is Too Small
- The Flame Is Burning
- Three-Legged Chicken
- Uncle Joe
- Young Forever
- A Song for an Absent Friend