Bernd Steidl - _Paganiniana_
(Shrapnel, 2001)
by: Brian Meloon (7 out of 10)
This is the American release of Steidl's long-awaited follow-up to his 1991 debut, _Psycho Acoustic Overture_. This album is similar in style, but at the same time, shows many differences. His core sound is a metal shred guitar style played on acoustic guitar, accompanied by gothic- and classically-inspired keyboards. It's a very original and unique sound, and Steidl definitely has the chops to make it interesting. His technique and style hasn't changed much in the last ten years, but what has changed is the nature of the accompaniment. The keyboards on this album are generally less gothic, and there are long sections which sound like a movie soundtrack. In fact, there are many sections where Steidl's guitar takes the back seat and the keyboards (which Steidl also plays) dominate the music. Classical themes are very prevalent on the album. In fact, a full one-third of the tracks are classically themed, including two based upon Paganini violin caprices, one based upon Albinoni's famous "Adagio", and one based upon Scriabin's "Piano Etude #8 Op. 12". A rather unfortunate addition to Steidl's style comes in the way of dance beats in a couple of the songs, which are eerily reminiscent of the classical-set-to-dance-music albums of the mid-to-late 80's. But for the most part, this is an enjoyable release. While it isn't the groundbreaking release that _Psycho Acoustic Overture_ was, fans of that album should enjoy this one as well. Note that the European release -- _Burnt Steel_ (on KDC Records) -- features three extra tracks: "Cobra" (a remake of "Cobra Negra" from his debut), "The Bunker" and "Odyssey". Luckily, their omission on this release isn't much of a loss, as while they're good songs, they aren't better than the ones that are here.

(article published 19/10/2001)

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