Joe Satriani – Unstoppable Momentum

joe satriani-unstoppable momentum album cover

What can be said? Joe ‘Satch’ Satriani has been at this music composing and recording game for longer than many of the readers of this review will have been alive. Many musicians cite Joe Satriani as one of their core influences, due to his consistently high-quality musical output across decades. The man who brings us G3 holed up at Skywalker Sound earlier in 2012 to bring forth another record, and the eleven tracks presented here in Unstoppable Momentum are enjoyable, highly melodic, and innovative.

Unstoppable Momentum features different styles within the genre – everything from hard-driving rock, to more mellow or moody tunes, to even funk-infused rock. With plenty of quirky, brilliant changes and reflections to uncommon moods like pure joy or mischief, and plenty of high-gain monster riffs, this album has sonic moments for everyone. The recording, co-produced by Mike Fraser (AC/DC), is high-fidelity and crisp, without excess compression. Each song is meticulously layered, with a very clear production. A listener seems to get the impression that Satriani is creating a comfortable atmosphere, where each song can breathe in to it’s own. It is an album of exploration, where in this comfortable atmosphere the listener is invited to check out the nuances within each song.

Satriani’s top-quality band sounds re-energized with the addition of drummer Vinnie Colauita and bassist Chris Chaney. Percussion provided by Colauita is easy to enjoy, as it occupies a forward position on many tracks (“Unstoppable Momentum”, “Jumpin’ Out”). Chaney enjoys working on bass guitar lines that do not necessarily follow the guitar’s lead (“Can’t Go Back”, “Jumpin’ In”). That adds a welcome dimension to the tunes. The rhythm and bass lines on this album enjoyably run the gamut from simple to highly complex. Fans of rock featuring keyboards will adore many songs, because Mike Keneally is very prominently featured throughout (“Lies And Truths”, “The Weight Of The World”). Satriani’s many notes are silken: they’re not as abrasive as some and not as ‘run together’ (legato) as some.

Two tracks that stand out especially clearly are “Shine On American Dreamer”, and “A Celebration”. “Shine On American Dreamer” hints at much more heaviness. It is very powerful, yet restrained. There’s pronounced keyboard accent over top of some of the guitar work, which is sure to please any rock fan who likes keys in the song mix. This tune, like many on the album, has what sounds like a great backbone for a song which would feature vocals. “A Celebration” is another rockin’ tune, which embodies many of the hallmarks of Satriani’s playing. It’s a fast shuffle that will get your blood flowing. The tune is plenty fast, plenty melodic, soaring, and lilting at times.

Satriani’s 14th studio album is strong, with thoughtful sequencing. It is very song-centric rather then solo-centric, which should please many of Satriani’s fans, who appreciate how he can incorporate so many different moods in to his creations without the use of a vocalist. On par with his previous releases, it is consistent, well-produced, highly melodic, and exploratory. With repeated listens, you’re sure to hear nuances you didn’t catch the first few times through, and this is delightful. As a welcome breath of fresh air, Unstoppable Momentum is recommended for new and old fans alike, as it elevates the art of the rock guitar instrumental.

Track Listing:
Unstoppable Momentum
Can’t Go Back
Lies And Truths
Three Sheets To The Wind
I’ll Put A Stone On Your Cairn
A Door Into Summer
Shine On American Dreamer
Jumpin’ In
Jumpin’ Out
The Weight Of The World
A Celebration

Band Lineup:
Joe “Satch” Satriani – guitars
Chris Chaney – bass
Vinnie Colauita – percussion
Mike Keneally – keyboards

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About Iris North

My formal position is: editor and music reviewer. I joined the PlanetMosh army in 2012. I enjoy extreme metal, 'shred' guitar, hard rock, prog rock, punk, and... silly pop music!