Elmo Karjalainen is a guitar player from Finland, rated as one of the best rock guitar players in his home country, due to his work with the Finnish metal band Deathlike Silence, as well as the release of his solo album “Unintelligent Designs”. Elmo also plays in the bands Seagrave and Conquest, and he has recently been touring with the nationally famous collective, Kilpi.
After receiving large doses of critical acclaim for his solo album, “Unintelligent Designs”, Elmo decided to follow it up with another solo project called “The Free Guitar Album”. In fact, alluding to the album title, the digital version is free!
Elmo Karjalainen does not just embody technical guitar prowess – his is a very deep exploration of all the possibilities on a guitar, and it pushes the envelope of instrumental imagination – very evident on the tracks “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” and “Noises”. But “The Free Guitar Album” as a whole will make you realize that Elmo Karjalainen is not simply a guitar player, he is a living extension of the instrument itself. I think these days too many people think that the point of music is ‘hooks’. If you refuse to listen to any music that doesn’t have some kind of hook or catchy riff that makes you tap your foot or nod your head, you will lead a very sheltered musical life.
In this album, Elmo Karjalainen will make you nod your head and tap your feet, but moreover he takes a much more mature approach to music, and creates a combination of catchiness on certain pieces (“She Sleeps On The Moon”), raw power on some (“Instrumental”), and sheer emotion in others (“The Bolero Unravels” and “Incontinental Breakfast”). You also have the absolute delicacy and wonderfully simple composition in “Relax”, and then the wondrous power and experimentation in “Algorhythm”, which showcases some moments that can only be described as divine.
Everything plays and revolves around Elmo’s guitar-work, as he isn’t afraid to show off his immense talent with the guitar, breaking out into Rock-Fusion riffs or Metal licks, spontaneously, and then switching forward to breakneck shredding or a calm solo. On this album Elmo Karjalainen shows that he is representative of creative rock guitar players. But he is more than just a guitar player, he’s a musician; his technique is sublime, and his musicianship and above-the-norm, melodic sense, is superb too.
The song structures on “The Free Guitar Album” are intelligent and evolve in unpredictable ways, but are never too complex for the listener’s ears. He delivers hard-rocking riffs and wicked tones, while maintaining a clear melodic sense and integrity that makes the compositions come to life. Elmo Karjalainen’s songs are very well thought out; not the endless repetitive licks you hear from so many others. His sound is unique and very inventive.
This is definitely the album to get for people who are new to Elmo, and/or instrumental guitar-rock. This is all instrumental, except for the odd spoken interlude. It contains awesome melodies and techniques… and whatever the hell you ever thought could be done with an electric guitar!