E.VIL (ELIAS VILJANEN) - The Leadstar
Release Date: OUT NOW
by: ALEX REIS
| Elias Viljanen (aka, E.Vil) is a Scandinavian guitar player, and a very good one. In fact, he praises this so much, that he claims to have “Concord fast fingers.” A follow-up to his debut album, The Leadstar is the new instrumental masterpiece released by this shredder.
E.Vil impresses by his ability to combine catchy, deep melodies, with “lighting speed” soloing. Through all of The Leadstar, remarkable themes, along with precise, addictive shredding are his trademark, and his work will fit well in your instrumental collection.
Guitar addicts will find his tone to be a bit lacking, though, with hints of direct recording being applied throughout the whole album, resulting in a guitar tone that is less than what you would expect from such a great player.
The self-indulgent titled opening track, “The Lord of the Strings,” with its atmospheric sonority opens ways to the Heavy Metal track “High-Powered.” This song wouldn’t be in your typical instrumental guitar album, as it has a very heavy side to it. It’s very cleverly composed, and could please both Metal and straight guitar fans.
Elias has very nice emotional moments, such as in “Tocuhing the Sky.” Touching on Vai and Satriani’s territory, most songs here have an instantly captivating central theme. This guitarist pays close attention not to overdo his soloing, and keeps his songs very interesting while not giving up on the technical fireworks.
“Northern Storm” is the best track on this album, and shows off the uniqueness in E.Vil’s work. Although following the steps of the genre greats, such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, Viljanen brings a new aspect of Power Metal to the instrumental scenery. His Blues grooves in “Fast & Furious” and “Magic Seven” remind of “Satch Boogie” and similar songs, but with more personality. Legato playing and key modulations are part of this guitar player’s vocabulary, and his compositions showcase that.
As for ballads, they seem to be Elias’ specialty. His catchy melodies render themselves to expressing feelings and creating atmospheres in “Follow the Leadstar.”
You probably have already heard Lionel Ritchie singing “Hello.” What you have not heard yet is a version of it that doesn’t sound corny, or too over the top. Viljanen has given this song a soulful interpretation, adding lots of expression to the original vocal line, and beautiful acoustic and electric guitar harmonies.
Although the production issues detract a bit from the overall experience, this is a great instrumental record. If you are into instrumental rock, The Leadstar is a must have in your collection!
Elias Viljanen – Guitar
Rami Herckman – Bass
Tomi Ylonen – Drums
Jari Koivisto – Keyboards
Check out Elias' Web site at www.EliasViljanen.com, or the label’s site at www.LionMusic.com.
|ELIAS VILJANEN - The Leadstar
Elias Viljanen (or E.vil) is another fine guitarist to have come from Scandinavia. The Leadstar is the follow up to the much acclaimed debut release 'Taking The Lead' and is if anything a stronger and more accessible release with melodies being to the fore with guitar flash secondary to the music.
The 12 tracks on offer show of an accomplished performer and well rounded musician that has utilised the other musicians around him to great effect to deliver a wide ranging spectrum of music. The main focus is on rock guitar but the many highly lyrical lead lines that scream everything from anger to passion work makes this stand out from the many number of instrumental artists around.
The Leadstar is a quality second release that will not let down anyone that invests their money in it.
Rating - 82%
E.Vil: The Leadstar
This is E.Vil’s (Elias Viljanen aka “The Finnish Flash”) second release and after two tracks I knew I absolutely had to track down his first Taking The Lead. Elias takes leads galore on this beauty playing with grace and a great sense of melody. The song “Touching The Sky” is worth the price of admission alone with its insistent groove and intelligent counterpoint solo bursts. There are hints of Satch and Moore throughout this recording, but at the end of the day E.Vil makes a staggering personal statement with his speed, finesse and chops. Highly recommended
1. Lord Of The Strings
3. Touching The Sky
4. Unity For Life
5. Northern Storm
6. Fast & Furious
7. Magic Seven
8. Follow The Leadstar
9. Driving Force
10. Hello (Lionel Ritchie!!)
Added: August 2nd 2005
Reviewer: Mike Blackburn www.seaoftranquility.org
Elias VILJANEN: "Taking The Lead" 8
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 30 December 2002
Elias "E.Vil" Viljanen is a new guitar-shredder from Finland, with a remarkable debut album. In fact, "Taking The Lead" is such a stunning release (when it comes to instrumental rock). That you're almost preperd to compare him with heroes such as Vai or Satriani, and this with his very first CD.
Viljanen started out playing acoustic guitar at the age of nine. Heavily influenced by KISS at the time, he would later play both Thrash & Death Metal. His Death Metal band even got a recording deal from a French record label (at the age of 17). However, this is all in his past now. There's no need to worry about growls or other disturbing death metal roars here. Well duh! It's instrumental guitar rock for crying out loud.
Elias is 'taking the lead' guitar (he?!) to the limit here. This is almost like Satriani's classic album "Flying In A Blue Dream", only with a slightly less impressive guitarist and production. And I do mean 'slightly' as Elias surely knows how to use his axe, to the max. To no-one's suprise, Viljanen also admits that Satriani is his biggest inspiration and guitar hero. This CD includes all styles of instrumetal rock really. Everything from soaring ballad-ish tracks (I Go Solo, A Dream Come True), to "Hyper-Boogie" and the progressive rock of "Northern Breeze". The title track is totally Satch style with top class performances and flashy moves. This is guitar mayhem at loudest volume with lots of tricks and licks. Recommended to fans of instrumental guitar rock and guitarist out there.
ELIAS VILJANEN – Taking The Lead
Very rarely these days does an instrumental album come along and knock me for six, so when it does happen the effects are all the more acute. Elias Viljanen (or ‘E.Vil’ for short) is a 27 year old guitar protégé from Finland who has been defining and refining his craft for the best part of two decades now. A huge fan of people such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, his debut solo album ‘Taking The Lead’ has all the emotion and energy of either ‘Passion And Warfare’ or ‘Surfing With The Alien’, mixed in with something that’s perhaps a little more contemporarily progressive.
As a technician, Viljanen can shred with the best of ‘em, but behind that kerosene fuelled façade his talents as both songwriter and arranger run to much greater depths. Like his two hero’s, Viljanen has constructed an album filled with a whole range of moods and tempo’s, transcending the usual extended solo workouts to become more like proper songs, albeit songs without vocals.
After the short, explosive opener ‘Evoke The Spirit’ (30 seconds or so of Malmsteenesque shred), Viljanen quickly settles into his stride with the punchy ‘Evil Rock’, a track which has all the guitar histrionics of prime time Vai. Continuing in the same brash manner comes ‘The Axemaster’, a composition structured in exactly the same versus / chorus / verse style you’d expect from any band, only this time Viljanen’s guitar takes the ‘role’ of vocalist. And as you delve further and further into this little box of aural delights, a whole range of moods and passions is brought into play. From the gently meandering ‘I Go Solo’ or the almost whimsical ‘Beyond Twilight’ at one end of the spectrum, to the harder hitting strains of ‘Taking The Lead’ or the funky, Van Halenesque rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Speed Of The Devil’ at the other, Viljanen proves equally adept at whatever he tries.
I have to congratulate Lion Music on finding this guy because on the strength of this release he has a very bright future indeed … now if they can only find a band worthy of his talents, that would be something truly special.
DAVE COCKETT FIREWORKS MAGAZINE - UK
|Viljanen, Elias--Taking The Lead, Lion Music, 2002
When this label does something right, it does something right. This new Scandinavian sensation is no exception. Gifted with Concord-fast fingers and a truly special understanding of melody, Viljanen crafts deft, supreme melodies that rise from below and expand beyond the heavens (check out “Evoke The Spirit,” “Evil Rock,” and “The Axemaster”). Of perhaps equal importance is the fact that he can deliver the big guitar ballad (“I Can Go Solo”) and do the Satch boogie (“Hyper Boogie”). While it’d be interesting to see what he does when paired with a vocalist, he proves here, once and for all, that he’s one of those pure-of-heart types who still believes in guitar heroes and is on the verge of becoming one himself.
Added: January 5th 2003
Reviewer: Jedd Beaudoin www.ytsejam.com
ELIAS VILJANEN - TAKING THE LEAD
Blackbay's guitar player has gone solo for this records. Instrumental album that containing 12 tracks of pure hard rock/metal. I really enjoy those song at first listen! Catchy riffs with an amazing execution. Powerfull guitar playing, man these songs got a soul I tell ya! The only thing is to be honest, being a singer, it's kind of hard for me to listen to music without hearing vocals but E.Vil made me forget that by putting some amazing solos and musical arragement that blow me away instantly! Fans of Vai and/or Satriana will be blown away. A name to remember!www.thedarkesthours.com Patrick
ELIAS VILJANEN - TAKING THE LEAD
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
All I can say is WOW, as soon as the first three songs 'Evoke The Spirit', 'Evil Rock' and 'The Axemaster' thunderblasted with spark flying chops or guitarmeggaddon, I knew I had stumbled on to a future star. Jesus man, where did Lion Music find this guy from?
Elias Viljanen, is simply put the best guitairst I have heard since Toshi Isadel burst onto the scene. Elias reminds me one minute of Vai, George Lynch, Nuno Bettencourt, and Reb Beach and the next minute he is spraying us with giant slabs of neo-classical burn outs that one would normally associate with the likes of Marty Friedman, Jason Becker and Paul Gilbert.
The album is just breathtaking. The playing on the first three songs is out of this world and has left be totally gobsmacked, there is nothing bad I can say about the album, except, imagine what could happen if they was a killer singer on these songs or if Elias can get into a band situation, then I think something big could happen, he has amazing talent, as I said, it's been years since I've heard such a powerful guitar album like this, it is refreshing to be taken by suprise every now and again. The album is also technically diverse such as on the pounding Northern Breeze' which just shreds.
Elias also has the good sense to keep some of the song mellow, like the gorgeous 'A Dream Come True', 'Beyond Twilight' and 'I Go Solo' both of which are very strong compositions, but it is the mans sheer playing that blows me away, check out 'Taking The Lead' which nods his head towards Joe Satriani and reminds me of Satch's 'Summer Song', catchy and well played, whilst 'Hyper-Boogie' also made me think at how it would sound if he had say Joe Lynn Turner or Goran Edman signing vocals over the guitar playing, it's a song with a little bit of a 70's feel to it. 'Written In Stars' sounds like Satriani's 'Day At The Beach' in fact you could call this album "Flying In A Blue Dream Part II", it is that close to the album, but it's not a rip off as the playing is just mind melting. I loved the albums ending songs 'Passion For Glory' and 'Speed Of The Devil' which all continue the hard rocking shredding mayhem.
This is a guitar album everyone should own, the whole damn thing is just shit-hot ass kicking monster and Elias is going to go far. Watch out for an interview with the man soon.