Stéphan Forté
The Shadows Compendium

Oh Stéphan Forté, if thou art female, I’d be swooning all over you right now (and you’d probably be the best girl shredder out there).

Seriously, how did this album escape the radar of countless popular metal websites and blogs last year? The guitarist of French progressive neo-classical band, Adagio, Stéphan Forté has finally and officially gone solo with this full-length studio album, and it’s brimming with talent, unmatchable virtuosity, talent, and more talent. Of course, not just his talent. This solo effort sees an all-star ensemble of Jeff Loomis, Matthias IA Eklundh, Glen Drover, Derek Taylor and Daniele Gottardo contributing their talents as well. Ah, the privileges of being a virtuosic guitar player.

Whenever albums like this are released, it always renews the faith I have in my personal conjecture that if talented Classical composers like Beethoven or Mozart were still alive today, they’d probably be neo-classical metal guitarists. I don’t know which one of them reincarnated as Stéphan Forté, but whichever one is residing within, he is doing a darned good job at spurring his host to make the old sound new again.

Ironically, this is achieved by Stéphan Forté sticking to his Classical (an umbrella term for the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century genres) influences like Spiderman to a glue trap. The sheer number of arpeggios and Romantic-inspired guitar solos present exude a classy aura that only a gentleman from early modern Europe could possess. It’s as though every track off this album were neo-classical piano pieces that were played and recorded with the electric guitar. Granted, one can definitely hear some “djent” influence, since the promotional materials stated Meshuggah as one of the guy’s influences, and the backing riffs in songs like “I Think There’s Someone In The Kitchen (ft. Daniele Gottardo)” (listen carefully to the first 1/3 of the song) certainly sound like it. However, it is obviously not the main focus here, since Stéphan Forté’s technical yet expressive solos often take center stage.

If the array of guitar techniques available to Stéphan Forté can be likened to an economy, his shredding is a controlled commodity. He executes the typically wankery art of shredding with panache and aplomb, never making a single note sound pointless and out-of-place. Such magnificently intricate but well thought-out song structures are a rare sight in today’s modern metal scene, but lookie here! It can be done!

The piano makes its presence felt as well. From the agile, running notes on “Prophecies Of Loki XXI” to its faithful rendition of a classic Beethoven song on “Improvisation On Sonata No.14, C# minor – Op. 27 No.2 (Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”)”, its excellent duality with Stéphan Forté’s impressive guitar work truly brings the meaning of “neo-classical metal” to a whole new level.

In retrospect, I now regret having not discovered this album before I compiled my “Best of” list last year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Dane Prokofiev
February 6th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: California

    “Whenever albums like this are released, it always renews the faith I have in my personal conjecture that if talented Classical composers like Beethoven or Mozart were still alive today, they’d probably be neo-classical metal guitarists. I don’t know which one of them reincarnated as Stéphan Forté”

    That is what I repeat since many years :)


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