Marco Sfogli CD's and DVD's

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There's Hope (CD)



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Marco Sfogli is arguably the world’s hottest guitarist of the next generation. With a style equally at home in almost every genre, from full on shred to straight pop tunes to mind blowing fusion songs, its little wonder that Marco was the guitarist of choice when Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie went looking for a guitarist to perform and then tour for his “Elements Of Persuasion” album.
Marco has more recently been heard on the critically acclaimed John Macaluso & Union Radio debut “The Radio Waves Goodbye” and it’s now that guitar fanatics worldwide have the chance to hear what Marco can do when given free reign in the instrumental realm.
His debut “There’s Hope” is 11 tracks with a mix of influences Marco has absorbed since he took up the guitar at age 9. On the album Marco comments, “There are plenty of shred records out there and sounds like many guitarists are losing the melodic component. My goal was to make it very melodic with the right amount of fire!”
“There’s Hope” delivers Marco’s aims with stunning precision, detail and emotional content sure to make it a “must own” release for fans of quality music and virtuoso guitar work.


Marco Sfogli – There’s Hope

Lion Music

Rating - 8.5/10

Review Al Hey

When it comes to great guitar instrumental music there is one label that always seems to come up trumps with regard to bringing amazing players out into the open. That label is Lion Music and after a few plays of the debut album from Marco Sfogli, “There’s Hope”, I can categorically say they are unleashing one of their finest guitar orientated releases to date. From start to finish this album delivers some of the most tasty licks and chops you will hear this year. To say the future looks bright for Marco at this point would be an understatement. He has already caught the attention of many in the music world, most notably Dream Theater's James LaBrie who used Marco as his guitar player on his “Elements Of Persuasion” album and John Macaluso who employed his talents on his album “The Radio Waves Goodbye”.

Marco has been playing guitar since the age of nine and since then its apparent for all to hear that he has been soaking up as many influences as possible resulting in a player who sounds comfortable and able in many styles. On his debut album Marco has this to say, “There are plenty of shred records out there that sound like many guitarists are losing the melodic component. My goal was to make it very melodic with the right amount of fire”. Well after living with the album for a week or so now I can safely say he has delivered an absolute monster of an album that kicks serious guitar ass and that will have many big name guitar players looking over their shoulder as a player from a new generation emerges and steps into the spotlight.

The first thing that struck me is Marco’s gorgeous rock guitar tone that is smooth, syrupy and beefy all at the same time. The best description would be that it is a glorious mix of Steve Lukather, Kee Marcello, John Petrucci, Robben Ford and Satriani. Opening track “Still Hurts” is a slice of melodic rock playing that brings to mind the song orientated playing of guitarists like Andy Timmons and Reb Beach and it’s no surprise that Marco was trying to tap into the spirit of the eighties bands like Europe, Winger and Danger Danger, bands that he was listening to when he was getting his chops together. I would go as far as saying that some of his playing on this track recalls the spirit of Dream Theaters “Images And Words” album.

Which leads me nicely onto the second track “Andromeda” which just drips with silky smooth inventive playing that is mildly progressive with stunning runs and odd time signatures thrown in for good measure. Marco’s playing is very reminiscent here of John Petrucci (Dream Theater), it’s his tight and accurate picking combined with the way he moves across string and positions with sublime assuredness that gave me this impression. “Seven” is a wonderful song with a nice ebb and flow to the phrasing and interaction between the guitar solos and the keyboard playing of Alex Argento. It is gentle fusion that had me half expecting T. Lavitz (Dixie Dregs) was going to pop up at any time to take a keyboard solo.

“There’s Hope” is a killer rock guitar work out that would sound at home on John Petrucci's “Suspended Animation” solo album. It’s Marco’s muscular tone and cocked wah pedal inflections along with devastating examples of sweep picking, legato and string skipping that bring this observation to mind. To be honest this track shows a player who has mastered all the techniques of the guitar rock god in some style. “Spread The Disease” sounds like the title of thrash metal song but Marco has chosen it as the title of a very laid back and juicy blues. His phrasing and tone is what led me to comparing him to the great Robben Ford. He adds jazzy licks to the brew to serve up a very potent and intoxicating display of musical taste.

“Farewell” is a straight-ahead guitar rocker, kind of from the same school of rock as Joe Satriani’s “Summer Song”. Marco goes for pure and straight melodies but spices things up with some very cool and fiery phrasing. There are moments in this track that brought to mind the guitar playing of Edward Box (Lion Music artist) especially in the way that many notes are “slid into”. “Sunset Lights” is a scorcher of a track that feels slightly “epic”. It features some cool trade off guitar and synth passages. Sort of like what Jan Hammer and Neal Schon were doing years ago but with “Sunset Lights” everything is very much music “in the now”. Marco’s phrasing on this track is sublime and has to be heard to be appreciated, it truly is stunning.

“Genius” is cool and heavy fusion of the highest order. Once more Marco keeps the melodies flowing and also straps on a guitar that takes some of the rhythm guitar down nice and low. It’s a track that could be described as “chop city” and for those who like to sit back and be entertained with “stunt playing” this track will fit the bill perfectly. “Never Forgive Me” is a straightforward song that bristles with gorgeous melodies. Marco was considering singing on this track but decided to go for lyrical playing and after listening to this track many times I would say he made a good judgment as his playing on this track has a slightly different flavour to the rest of the album. It’s slight but shows as a player he was digging deep to express himself . “Memories” is just guitar and piano interacting with each other in a way that is both tender and sweet all at the same time. Expressive phrasing makes this song one of the surprise packages of the album.

And talking of surprises “Texas BBQ” closes the album in tremendous style. It’s a county hoe down that instantly brought to mind Albert Lee, all this track needed was a guitar delay section in the style of “Country Boy” and one would have been fooled into thinking Albert was the guest guitarist. For anyone thinking country guitar is a bit lame take it from me that anyone who can play country can often run rings round some of the most gymnastic guitar players out there and if anything this song shows what a well rounded player Marco is.

I guess by now you will have gathered that this album has made an impression on me. To be honest it’s the sheer quality of Marco’s playing and also the consistent high standard of the music he has created that has led me to scoring this album highly. Any guitar players who like the work of John Petrucci, Steve Lukather, Andy Timmons or Joe Satriani seek this album out as soon as possible. Believe me you won’t regret it. On this display we can be sure of hearing a lot more from Marco Sflogi in the future and I for one will make sure I am there for the ride.

Sfogli, Marco – There’s Hope

2008 Lion Music

Up until a couple of years ago, axeman Marco Sfogli was one of the best unknown guitarists around. That was until James LaBrie picked him to sling the six strings on his Elements of Persuasion record. But the question remained, when would Sfogli emerge with a project/band of his own, and that would be answered with the release of his debut solo album, There’s Hope.

One of the most fluidly melodic guitar records you will hear, Sfogli plays his axe as a singer would sing his vocal lines, backing up a series of songs, yes songs, not just wanky shred fests, for this is a record filled with tune upon tune of catchy splendor, being heavy to the bone – similar to the likes of Satriani, Vai, and labelmate Ed Box - conveying grinding emotional glory through the six strings. “Still Hurts,” the prog-metal tinged “Genius,” and the title track are straight-to-the-point metal opuses, while the more emotive approach is found within the laid back “Sunset Lights,” the stripped-down ballad “Memories,” where only guitar and piano are present, & the low down slick fusion of “Seven;” he even delves into country-blues boogie with “Texas BBQ,” showing that he has flexibility within his chops.

There’s Hope is undoubtedly the contender for best instrumental guitar album of the year, don’t be surprised if you hear this guy on more and more projects – melodic playing like this is often hard to come by, which makes this record an intriguing piece of work.

Added: March 16th 2008
Reviewer: Tommy Hash


Marco Sfogli - There’s Hope (Lion Music) By: Joe Florez 

Here’s another guitarist that is trying to be noticed and has a debut album out that he wants you to hear. If this name slightly rings a bell, it should. He has worked with Jordan Rudess, James LaBrie’s solo record and John Macaluso as well as others. Now, it’s time to show everyone what he has up his sleeve. I automatically assumed that with a solo artists release I could expect a full on shred assault filled with overkill wankery, but that’s not the case here. There is a lot more to this man’s music. “Still Hurts” is the opening track and while this doesn’t melt off your face off right from the get go, it’s still a joy to listen to if you can expand your horizons. This track is performed more from the heart than the head. This is a

very poppy track, but there is some light shred action here and it’s not all fluff. You can feel the emotions running through the man’s hands here and there is even some heaviness added to the mix. Plenty of change ups run amok on here, but it keeps things fresh and exciting. I really felt what was going on with the track. Hopefully the rest of the album can contain the same enthusiasm as cut one. “Andromeda” is a playful track that is upbeat, colorful and full of life. Marco shows off his chops here that are both technical and simplistic that makes for one pleasurable listen. “Spread The Disease” has a more rock flair with hints of a seventies vibe thanks to the Hammond organ playing that is akin to Deep Purple. Rock on! There is plenty of depth and dimension to “There’s Hope.” You can call it experimental, but I like to just say that the man simply expands his horizons and opts to travel down several roads rather than one. It’s all in here whether it’s proggy, shred, pop, synthetic or all of the above. The one thing for certain is that if you can open your mind a bit you will find something on here to enjoy and this disc will warrant repeat listens for obvious reasons. Marco is an individual that doesn’t deserve to be overlooked. Show him some love. |
MARCO SFOGLI - THERE'S HOPE (A-/B+) Lion Music, 2008
11 tracks, RT: 48:55

Now here is a really good instrumental album from Italian musician Marco Sfogli, perhaps best known as James LaBrie's guitarist but now stepping out on his own with THERE'S HOPE, a collection of thoroughly enjoyable tunes that you don't have to be a guitarist to appreciate! THERE'S HOPE begins with the exquisite themes of "Still Hurts," showing Marco to be adept not only at navigating the fretboard with flawless technique but also at strong song composition, so important with these types of albums to keep them from becoming exercises in self-indulgence. One of my favorites is "Seven," Marco's intuitive playing blending beautifully with Fabio Tommasone's piano, Dino Fiorenza's meticulous basslines, John Macaluso's inspired drumming and Alex Argento's uplifting synth solo. Marco effectively explores a diversity of styles, satisfying the ears on the bluesy funk of "read The Disease," triumphant rocker "Sunset Lights," fusiony stunner "Genius" and country styled closer "Texas BBQ." There are plenty of Satriani and Petrucci-inspired licks to keep shred fans happy, but what I like most about Marco is that he has a real talent for playing melodically a la Shawn Lane. Marco employs a host of session musicians to help him realize his vision (including Dali's Dilemma and Explorers< Club keyboardist Matt Guillory), but the result is quite unified and the production is excellent. One of the very best of the new players I've heard recently, I highly recommend this to fans of instrumental albums who are looking for more than the latest display of highly developed chops. To those currently working on instrumental albums:
More of this type of thing, please!
- Neal Woodall (
MysticX9@gmail. com)