As far as guitarists go, Shehzad Bhanji is a master of his craft. While not quite as well-known as some of his contemporaries (Steve Vai and Joe Satriani come to mind in his field) he’s more than proven himself on his previous 2016 album – “Never Say Goodbye”. His latest album – “Profound Beginnings” – is completely instrumental and reminiscent of the material on the previous album. So if you enjoyed that one, you’ll certainly adore this one. If you haven’t yet heard “Never Say Goodbye”, I urge you to do that to. This will give you a better understanding of the subtle progression in Bhanji’s music.
Perhaps what is most striking about this release is Shehzad Bhanji’s even stronger sense of melody. While this was also clearly evident on his previous work, the focus on melody is considerably more noticeable here, and is really what sets Bhanji apart from the pack of metal shredders. Shehzad Bhanji’s playing also dispels the myth that instrumental guitar rock lacks emotion and is all about speed shredding.
Every song on this release displays a depth of emotion and a genuine love of the guitar. Each song brings a little something different to the table so you will hear plenty of melodic lines; bone-hard riffing and explosive shredding too. But each is delivered in easily consumable doses, and do not numb the aural senses as much as captivate them.
“Profound Beginnings” features some excellent multi-tracking and the production in general is of an extremely high quality all-round. Its audio engravings are unsurprisingly all composed by Shehzad Bhanji himself. His guitar is seated right at the forefront of the mix, enjoying a prestigious clarity and power, backed luscious bass, drums, pianos and tones of electronic sounds too.
The omniscient presence on this album though, goes to the prodigious playing of Bhanji, his inventive riffs and streaming solos clearly propelling the music. And more than that, it sounds huge, especially for a solo guitar record. On my first listen I was blown away by its cavernous sound; it’s a mighty behemoth of depth.
Producer Bhanji and the studio crew at Shehzad Bhanji Studio Qatar and Songbuilder Studios (USA), have done a fantastic job of recording this, while the mixing by Nate Lanzino and the mastering by Stephan Antonelli is superb too.
The proof of all the above though, is in the pudding, so to speak, and it’s precisely the opening track of the album “Till We Meet Again”, which is also offered as a FREE download on Bhanji’s Soundcloud profile. The song opens with a cinematic darkwave intro before exploding into a fiery guitar rocker driven to soaring heights by Bhanji’s Gibson.
From that moment onward Bhanji takes the listener on melodic and dynamic electric guitar journey that has moments of delicate introspection, as on “Straight From the Heart” and “Meaning of Love”, or the sheer rock ecstasy on “Without You”. In between there are sprawling melodic moments like “Crazy In Love” and “Midnight in Doha”, as well as crunchy adrenaline pumpers such as “Steal You Away”.
This album is rife with excellence, germinating with quality, a sublime composition of symphonic ingenuity. You will hear sets of percussive power chords that subsequently muscles along through a multitude of musical passages, at times evoking the mysticism of Eastern music, at others the grass-nibbling rawness of American Blues-based rock.
It’s the perfect example of that ability to change course mid-song, mid-riff, mid-note that Shehzad Bhanji imbues into his music. The songs drag you through its residence, allowing just enough time to succulently indulge in each room’s sonorous charm, before hauling you off to see what the next doorway has in store.
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