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Joe Satriani – What Happens Next

Live Reviews and Album Reviews

Joe Satriani – What Happens Next

By: Samantha Lamb (@samlamb4)

 

 

What Happens Next is the 16th solo release for the guitar maestro, Joe Satriani, and was released on 12th January 2018 on Sony / Legacy Recordings.

 

What Happens Next features a power tri of legendary status; Satriani on guitar, Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Country Communion) on bass and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) on drums. This is the first reunion of Smith and Satriani since Chickenfoot. Satriani has joined forces with Mike Fraser to produce, engineer and mix What Happens Next. Fraser has been a frequent collaborator over the past 20 years and is well known for recording and mixing every AC/DC album since the 1990’s The Razors Edge.

 

For two decades Satriani has travelled the world, playing to sold out crowds as both a headliner and as a founder of the all star G3 guitar extravaganza. His studio and live recordings have sold more than 10 million copies as well as having 15 Grammy nominations between them.

 

To say that Satriani is a master of his craft seems like a really big understatement as he reinvents what is capable of being played on a electric guitar time and time again and this album is no exception.

 

Energy is the opening track of the album and it packs a huge punch of energy, exploding out of the speakers like a bullet from a gun. There is a whole load of fuzz, screaming riffs that pierce through the massive sound that Smith and Hughes deliver combining with intricate guitar work that demands your attention.

 

The next track Catbot if filled with funky sounds which sounds like a conversation from a demented robot. It has a rhythm that pulls you in complete with searing riffs and a deep bass line. This is another high energy track that leaves you slightly breathless that all of that majesty on guitar is packed into 3 minutes 38 seconds.

 

Thunder High on The Mountain starts with a staccato drum beat, under which you hear the rumblings of the dark clouds which are constructed by the guitar and bass. The bass line is so deep it could be thunder and then the light comes with a change in tempo allowing the clouds to break and you hear the breath of sun from the beautifully constructed riff that shimmers and gleams. The storm builds, with powerful clashes that rip through before the final chord and you feel you can let out the breath you have been holding in for the duration of the encounter.

 

Cherry Blossoms, is also the first single from the album, and feels like you are surrounded by the beauty and purity of these stunning trees. The purity shines through from Satriani’s tone and the stacarto playing brings to mind the blossoms fluttering towards the earth with a babbling waterfall in the distance. The effects then bring about a scream and shriek before settling back into the sweetness of the initial hook. Righteous has a real anthemic feel to it and you can imagine it being a real hit when played live. It has intensity and brooding passion at its heart combining effortlessly with a kind of 70’s rock vibe.

 

Smooth Soul is exactly what it says on the tin. Meltingly gorgeous with a sumptuous tone that speaks to your soul. The interplay with drums and bass also help to set the mood, which is full of optimism and light.

 

Its then time to crank the volume back up to 11 for Headrush. Swooping riffs, resonant bass line and powerful drumming combine to make this a track that is all about rock. The melody rolls around, enveloping you and demanding that you tap your toes and nod your head. The changes in tempo allow Satriani to deliver a transcendental riff, before we are back into the melee. Swagger and bravado combine with elegant instrumentation to deliver one of the tracks of the album for me.

 

Looper is filled with a groove that makes your toes dance along. Satriani makes his guitar sound like it is having a conversation with the rest of the band that intensifies the way these things can and then settles back into a playful rhythm. What Happens Next reminded me initially of a theme tune to a 70’s cop show and it has that kind of vibe, funky and fluid. The bass line is packed with groove and the drumming builds on this also. Leading into the climax all 3 instruments build in intensity until we are back with the guitar tones alone except for the shimmer of a cymbal.

 

Super and certainly funky Super Funky Badass uses a staccato style as it moves up and down the scale, adding flourishes along the way. The embellishments growl and sneer, soaring and screaming, adding depth and interest. Skewed riffs merge with flamboyant playing and all the while the beat is kept in perfect time by Hughes and Smith.

 

Invisible starts like a band trying to bring things to close before streaming into another great tune, with the dramatic false pauses before erupting to another crescendo. Satriani’s guitar reaches ever further upwards, sky bound and no knowing where it will end. The riff gets pulled back by some of the deepest bass and throbbing drums, before starting on its upward trajectory again.

 

Forever and Ever could be a homage to Hendrix but with a Satriani spin on it. There is a beautiful picking rythum that runs beneath and is occasionally picked up and developed by Satriani before oozing into another mesmeric riff. How on earth Satriani manages to convey so much emotion with his guitar I am not sure but he delivers here, saturated with melancholy and longing this is a track that will stay with you long after the final chord has faded away.

Satriani certainly seems to not be content to rest of his laurels and play the same old things over and over. This album shows more ways to bring something different from the guitar and yet make it feel as though it has always been so, it is both comforting and surprising. There are tracks that are intense and brooding and also lighter tracks that allow you to drift away. The musicianship of Hughes and Smith certainly adds to the mix, rounding off the edges. Satriani certainly deserves his title of guitar hero

 

Review by Samantha Lamb

 

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