Michael Angelo Batio
"Hands Without Shadows"

On the upside

For starters, Michael's new cd features the great Bobby Rock on drums. Very few can rock a kit like this man and it is great to hear him in his environment....abusing a drumset like very few can.

The cd is almost what I expected. Great guitar work and lightning fast leads, but what I wasn't expecting was the neo-tribute to some of the Michael's influences. The first track is entitled, "Burn", from legendary rockers Deep Purple, but let me make it clear, these songs are not just covers, they are Michael's interpretations, with plenty of great solos, to satisfy even the most accomplished guitar players. The second track is the mind-altering, "Tribute to Randy", which features the great Rudy Sarzo on bass and a cool medley of Crazy Train and Mr. Crowley.

One of the personal highlights is Track 3, "Zeppelin Forever", this medley includes Ten Years Gone, Black Dog, Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You, Whole Lotta Love, Moby Dick and Rock and Roll. Creatively speaking, Michael burns down the house on this one, as well as, featuring, Metal Method legend, Doug Marks, as a guest soloist. Good to hear from Doug again.

The title track, "Hand without Shadows" is one of the two original tracks and it rocks, just like you expect. Next was "Wherever I May Roam", by Metallica. WOW, a version I can listen to, but I must say, I was a bit confused by the track choice. It's Metallica, for crying out loud!!! I think we could go a little deeper in the catalog, but that's just personal preference. Never liked the vocals on the "Black" album, so with them removed, I could actually listen to it, without getting that annoying twitch in my left eye.

Really enjoyed track 7, entitled, "Pray on, Prey", which is the last original track, on the cd. It might even have a few of you wondering why Michael was / is not in a band like Annihilator...this mutha jams.

The last track is the not so flashy, "All along the Watchtower". It rocked just as hard as the others, but I must say, I enjoyed hearing Michael take a break from building fires with his fingers and instead, slow down a bit to do some great soul-moving guitar work.

On the downside
That thin guitar tone. When he is playing solo's, the guitar sounds great, but it's the rhythm guitar that has always sounded thin and unauthentic, but that goes back to his days in Nitro. Although Bobby's drumming is incredible, I found the snare sound and at times, the toms a bit weak, sounding more like a demo than a release. - DPJ

Official Michael Angelo Batio Website.

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