By: Josh Sager
When not fulfilling his duties for Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy, guitarist Marc Rizzo was shuffling in and out of the recording studio to finish his latest solo effort Legionnaire. An eleven song guitar record that draws influences from metal, classical, flamenco, and South American music, with Legionnaire, Rizzo has created a solid instrumental album that fans of shred guitar and straight-up metal will appreciate.
From the opening notes of “Release the Kracken” I can hear that Rizzo is a serious player with a lot of chops, announcing his arrival by unapologetically slapping you in the face with sweep arpeggios and harmonized guitar runs. Fans of Yngwie, Kotzen, Gilbert, et al will dig the song from beginning to end. Several of the songs, in fact, are very in-your-face guitar-focused tunes that absolutely crush.
There are several standouts (including “Kracken”) that I really enjoyed listening to:
“By Great Odin’s Beard” reminds me of late 80’s Testament or Death Angel. Love the main riff, it really takes me back to my impressionable metal youth. More great shred soloing on this track that compliments the really nice bluesy, main melody.
If there’s a song on the CD that let’s Rizzo show the influence the Cavalera brothers have had on him, “Bandidas” is certainly it. South American rhythms and a samba-like central theme provides a nice diversion from the metal-based tracks on the album. Typically, other guitarists will put a song like this further in the song order, but I really like that Rizzo made this the third cut. “The Emerald Goblet” also has some South American influence, though not as prevalent as on “Bandidas.”
“Peaks and Vallies” is a Flamenco, Al-DiMeola-infused song with a nice interplay between distorted electric-guitar on the main melody and the nylon-string counter melody. I really dig the arrangement of this song. The next song and title track – “Legionnaire” – also has a flamenco vibe to it, right up until about forty seconds in when Rizzo unleashes some John Petrucci-like mayhem on your ears.
If Legionnaire is to have one drawback I would have to say that Rizzo’s tone and use of effects is a bit rough around the edges. Great guitar runs and expressive lines are sometimes lost because of too much delay or trebly, biting tone – at least for my ears. As I’ve listening to more and more shredders I’ve become more appreciative of dialed back distortion and more subtle effects. Your mileage may vary.
All of the songs show nice diversity and the range of Rizzo’s influence and capacity to be more than just a “metal shred guitar guy.” Especially for those listeners who like their shred broken up a bit and mixed with other great music styles. Legionnaire is a solid buy and one that I can definitely see many people keeping in regular rotation for a long time.