Vinnie Moore - _The Maze_
(Shrapnel, 1999)
by: Brian Meloon (7 out of 10)
Although Vinnie Moore's last couple of albums have been standard hard rock fare, this album is hailed as Vinnie's return to his mid-'80s neo-classical style. That assessment is not terribly accurate, but it does contain a grain of truth. It would be more accurate to say that this album is his first in many years to contain elements of his neo-classical style. Certain parts of this album share a lot of similarities with his 1988 offering, _Time Odyssey_. In fact, I heard quite a few passages that sounded like they were taken directly from that album. His phrasing and some of the melodic styles that he employs are quite similar. However, this album contains more diversity in style. There are several places where the music takes a decidedly rockish turn, more in the style of his 1991 offering, _Meltdown_. A section of the title track sounds more like the jazz-rock fusion that David Chastain did on _Elegant Seduction_, and "In the Healing Garden" sounds a little like Dokken. Because of this, _The Maze_ at times has a schizophrenic and disjointed feel. It falls into the same trap that many other guitar-oriented albums do: it tries to do too many styles and please everyone, instead of concentrating on one style and getting it right. The playing is of course top-notch. Although Vinnie takes most of the spotlight, the keyboards (played by Tony MacAlpine), bass, and drums all get their chance at soloing as well. For the most part, the playing is restrained, although there are several sections of ultra-fast shredding. The production is excellent as well. Overall, this is a good album. In my opinion, it's not as good as _Time Odyssey_, but it's one of the better neo-classically influenced albums I've heard from the last few years, and it's much better than his previous two offerings.

(article published 7/7/1999)

5/10/1996 B Meloon 3 Vinnie Moore - Out of Nowhere
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