JEFF LOOMIS – Zero Order Phase

If you’ve been listening to underground metal for the past 10 years or so, you’ve probably had the pleasure to hear NEVERMORE‘s unsung lead guitarist Jeff Loomis. To call Loomis‘ progressive, heavy, and technically superior guitar playing “modern” would be a great place to start. Zero Order Phase represents his first entry into the instrumental guitar album genre. It clearly shows dimensions of Loomis‘ playing and songwriting which have never been displayed before. While opening song, “Shouting Fire at a Funeral,” may sound like it could’ve been a NEVERMORE song, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In place of where one would expect Warrel Dane‘s vocals to come in, Loomis plays beautiful melodic leads that possess the perfect tone. “Opulent Maelstrom” is a great mix of dissonance, jazz fusion, and soaring leads. Actually, Zero Order Phase is all about tasteful and soaring leads. The songs themselves are compelling and solid enough to stand alone as legit songs as opposed to being a mere platform for Loomis to just play solos. Zero Order Phase also features a good amount of variety in the songs such as the mellow yet strong “Azure Haze” and the weird juxtapositions of ominous parts and light Indian-like jams of “Cashmere Shiv.” “Sacristy” is the only track that actually sounds more in line with what a typical guitar instrumental album would sound like with its progressive feel and solo style. “Devil Theory” and “Miles of Machines” showcase Loomis‘ mindblowing speed, technique, and feel as he tears up the fretboard in awesome fashion. The album’s final track, “Departure,” is a haunting and beautiful acoustic track that picks up where the acoustic intro to OZZY‘s “Diary of a Madman” left off. Even if guitar instrumental albums are not your thing, Zero Order Phase stands out for being more song-oriented, unremorsefully metal, and just plain more compelling. If you’re looking for a true guitar hero, Jeff Loomis is your man. (Century Media Records)

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