Jeff Loomis
Plains of Oblivion

1. Mercurial
2. The Ultimatum
3. Escape Velocity
4. Tragedy And Harmony
5. Requiem For The Living
6. Continuum Drift
7. Surrender
8. Chosen Time
9. Rapture
10. Sibylline Origin
Bonus tracks European Ltd Edition:
11. Collide
12. Reverie For Eternity

Jeff Loomis (Guitars)
Shane Lentz (Bass)
Dirk Verbeuren (Drums)

Zero Oder Phase (2008)
With Nevermore:
Nevermore (1995)
In Memory (EP 1996)
The Politics Of Ecstasy (1996)
Dreaming Neon Black (1999)
Dead Heart In A Dead World (2000)
Enemies Of Reality (2003)
This Godless Endeavor (2005)
The Obsidian Conspiracy (2010)

Marty Friedman (Guitars on 1)
Tony MacAlpine (Guitars on 2)
Christine Rhoades (Vocals on 4, 8, 11 & 12)
Attila Vörös (Guitars on 5)
Chris Poland (Guitars on 6)
Ihsahn (Vocals on 7)

Aaron Smith (Producer & Mix)
Jens Bogren (Master)

Released 9/4-2012
Reviewed 14/7-2012

century media

Dilemma: What can one of the best guitarist in the world without the recognition he deserves do to prove to the world how great he is when his main band isn't enough?

Answer: He goes solo!

The former Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis has with Nevermore shown the world what a great guitarist he is for many years already and very few of those who've heard him denies his technical abilities and innovative ideas on the guitars. However, that real mainstream recognition is still something he hasn't got. A few years ago I sat down with the guitar teacher from Seattle and he explained to me how he works with the guitars during the course I got plenty of inside information on how he's experimenting with his instrument, in ways I think most hard rock guitarists didn't even know the possibility existed. We've heard a few of these in nevermore already, but it was on his first solo album from a couple of years ago that really made it apparent how great a guitarist Loomis really is as he could release himself from the strains of Nevermores' musical direction. Now he's releasing his second solo album and this time he's put even more effort in making it apparent what a great guitarist he is...

'Plains Of Oblivion' is 47 1/2 minute long and it's an album, as we would say here in Sweden, that completely booms out completely. With only three of the ten songs having vocals, the main focus is of course on the instrumental performance where the guitars - naturally - have the biggest role. Except from him self, Loomis has also invited four great guitarists to jam with him on one song each and two vocalists, where Christine Rhoades makes two appearances (plus two more if you buy the limited edition in Europe) and Ibsahn one, screaming track seven in to pieces. Christine is a really good vocalist and I think the tracks with her voice on them, Tragedy And Harmony and Chosen Time, are the best ones on this album. The biggest problem with instrumental albums, like this one, is that it often tends to become a bit too much of everything. I personally feel that one track with only guitars is good. Two… is okay. Three… tends to be a bit too much. Four… thankfully there are no part on this album with four instrumental tracks in a row, but had it been - I probably would have trashed this album pretty fast.

The thing with skilled musicians, like Jeff Loomis, is where they should draw the line when it comes to showing off their talents? Can you make an album purely without compromising anywhere and just make music that likeminded, great musicians like themselves can understand and appreciate or do you make an album that also the common music lover can understand and love? Because… what is it that really proves you're a great musician? Well written music that is both interesting and shows your skills or music that only shows your skills, let it be that it shows these skills even more then compared to when it's also interesting? In my book, it's a fine line you're balancing on when it comes to this subject and the real question is actually - who is right in these questions? The absolute peak elite or the commonly recognized and acknowledged ones? Can the peak elite really be right if no one else can understand their point of view? I think you need to have at least some common recognition from the public to get a real acknowledgement of your competence, because even though it's an accomplishment in its own to get the peak elite to recognise your skills but the real achievement is to get it from both fields - the public and the elite. That's why musicians like Slash and Yngwie Malmsteen commonly are considered better at their instruments than guitarists that quite obviously is more qualified but whom we don't even mention. And stuck in this dilemma is where we find 'Plains Of Oblivion'.

The record label proudly announce it's an album where "no two tracks are alike" as well as an album where Loomis pushes his "abilities to new heights that even his most ardent admirers could never have predicted". I'm not saying these descriptions are wrong in any way, because 'Plains Of Oblivion' is a very diverse album with plenty of demonstrations on greatly skilled guitarists. The only problem is that it's not particularly entertaining to play. Honestly, why should I have an album that's not entertaining? That's not an interesting and exciting musical journey that I'd like to take every now and then? Why should I own something that more or less only shows up musicianship that few people can match? It's just as stupid as owning books like 'Crime And Punishment', 'The Trial' and 'War And Peace' just because they're considered good literature without even liking or reading them due to their complicated language and story. It's a poser act that simply isn't making anyone happier, especially not you who have to explain why you own an album that you never play simply because it has music that might be considered better than other music. But by whom? You? Or some expert whos opinion you've never liked anyway? Well… that's the thing.

Without criticizing Mr Loomis or his work at 'Plains Of Oblivion' I'd like to assert my opinion that it's an album with music that very few will really, honestly, like. Some of the songs, mainly those with Christine Rhoades vocals as well as Continuum Drift and Sibylline Origin, seems slightly more respectfull to the listeners but elsewhere it's mostly just guitar virtuosity without any consideration of who should play this album… and that's not really my cup of tea. To guitarists and people with great knowledge in guitar playing - this is porno! To others, it's a plain and stupid action with Steven Seagal.



Label: Century Media
Three similar bands: Nevermore/Steve Vai/Yngwie Malmsteen
Rating: HHHHHHH (3/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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