We love our shredders… Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Michael Batio, Paul Gilbert… top names that have forged a lasting legacy in the genre. Today, let’s spend a few minutes diving a bit deeper into the sea of high notes and face melting solos. We’re going to set aside Dream Theater, Dragonforce, Yngwie, Steve Vai and the like, and turn instead to some more underground, under-the-radar, overlooked bands that bring the shred in the biggest of ways.
Galneryus – With the advanced technical prowess and discipline that Japan is famous for, these guys are constantly pushing the limits of melodic technical power metal. Led by guitarist Syu (he only needs one name), along with the equally talented Yuhki on keyboards, Galneryus consistently pump out some of the finest shredding in the universe.
Impellitteri – With 13 studio albums since 1987, Impellitteri has been brilliantly consistent in cranking out expertly written, flawlessly performed shred metal. With guitarist Chris Impellitteri at the helm, the band passes on the typical 10 minute epics and instrumentals that most shredders are known for and instead focus on crafting catchy 4 minute shred metal masterpieces.
Concerto Moon – Another prolific Japanese metal group, but with a more traditional neoclassical flair, guitarist Norifumi Shima takes his influences to heart and then pushes the limits of blazing neoclassical technique even further. Clocking in with 11 studio albums and a generous selection of EPs and live releases, Concerto Moon shows no signs of slowing down since it’s formation in the late 90s.
Heavenly – Hailing from France, while the intense guitar chops of Olivier Lapauze are without a doubt certifiably shred-tastic, there is also no denying the vocal prowess of lead singer Benjamin Sotto. A refreshing mix of ear-splitting high notes, 6 string shredding and unique song and vocal arrangements makes Heavenly a must-listen.
Santa Cruz – There must be something in the water (or ice maybe?) over in Sweden. Considering the country has produced Yngwie Malmsteen, Hammerfall, Lost Horizon, Sabaton, Dream Evil, Falconer, and mainstream pop music mastermind Max Martin… to name a few… it probably comes as a surprise that this next band is actually from Finland! No but seriously, Santa Cruz is an 80’s hair metal throwback band updated with modern production and songwriting styles. Featuring Arttu “Archie” Kuosmanen and Joonas “Johnny” Parkkonen on vocals and guitar, respectively, this twin Les Paul attack duo combines the best of everything that we love about shred guitar.
Crossfire – Israel is rarely considered to be a hotbed of hair metal or shred guitar. Apparently Crossfire never got the memo and they went ahead and put together a seamless blend of Skid Row, Dokken and Vai-era David Lee Roth. Songs about babes, rockin’ out and more babes.
Ring of Fire – This way-too-often-overlooked supergroup is spilling over with virtuoso level chops from vocals to drums and everything in between. The classic lineup features Mark Boals on vocals, Tony MacAlpine on guitar, Vitalij Kuprij on keyboards, Philip Bynoe on bass and Virgil Donati on drums. With 4 albums of material, there’s plenty to enjoy. While Tony MacAlpine is certainly well known in the shred genre, Ring of Fire as a band somehow is often passed over by USA audiences.
Last Tribe – This sonic artifact (get it?) of the early 2000s has 3 albums of material and enough notes to sink the titanic. With Swedish metal mainstay Magnus Karlsson in it’s ranks, the tunes are perfectly balanced and calculated to melt your face.
Melodius Deite – Proving once again that metal has no borders, Thailand based Melodius Deite have constructed a perfect blend of neoclassical shred and euro style power metal. Complete with the requisite dragon and pirate lyrical themes MD comes to the table with the skills to rival the genre’s finest.
Animetal / Animetal USA – Both the Japanese band Animetal and the aptly named USA counterpart Animetal USA, are a bountiful source of mind-numbing shredder tracks. On the surface the blend of Anime theme songs and speed metal might seem counter intuitive, but in the end it just leaves you wondering why it isn’t done more often.
Rob Rock – A vocalist’s solo project isn’t the obvious choice for blazing guitar work, however Rob Rock’s solo albums have featured an array of well-armed shredders such as Roy Z, Carl Grimmark, Gus G, Rick Renstrom and even Jake E. Lee. If you have 12 minutes to burn take a listen to “The Hour of Dawn” from Rock’s 2003 release, Eyes of Eternity. For now, here’s a more bite-sized piece.
Keep shredding! – Max