Review: Harant, Unleashed
There was a time when an instrumental rock guitar album could maintain a life within one particular genre. Player’s such as Yngwie Malmsteen, whose recordings helped usher in the era of Neo-Classical Shred, were able to play one style and hold an audience’s attention. But, it seems that after decades of releases, guitar audiences’ tastes have grown, demanding more variety from modern players than their predecessors would have had to work with. From a listener’s perspective, the wider variety that players such as Johnny A, Greg Howe and Gary Hoey are bringing to the table these days has only helped to strengthen the genre. Though there are many great guitarists on the scene today, one player that deserves to be mentioned alongside this trio of monster players is Canadian Harant, and his debut album Unleashed is a tour de force of modern guitar techniques and styles.
Harant is truly unleashed on this record as he brings his no holds barred approach to playing on each track. Right from the opening riff of “Good Times,” his solid technique, deep sense of groove and high level of musicianship are very apparent. Though he has the chops to shred at any tempo and over any chord change, he takes his time developing this opening track. By choosing to build his ideas around the central riff and groove of the song, instead of tearing into a blistering solo as he easily could have, Harant draws the listener into the song. He sucks them into the riff before unleashing his chops later on in the song. This level of musicianship and patience with his compositions makes the guitarist stand out from his peers, and is one of the main reasons that the album as a whole is so successful.
There are also moments when Harant cuts loose and lets his chops come to the forefront, as they should, on songs such as “Universal Groove.” Here, the guitarist again builds on a cool sounding riff before trading solos with himself, showcasing the various tones and effects he has in his musical palette. Apart from featuring some of the album’s best solos, the song also features some nice whammy-bar work during the opening section. Moving between lightning fast dives and long, drawn out swells, his whammy work is perfectly timed and always right in tune, both of which are tough to do on a good day for most rock guitarists. Again, this is another example of the guitarist’s musicianship coming to light. Many players would have been happy to just get the “effect” of the whammy bar, but Harant isn’t your average player. Instead, he works out the exact timing and tuning for each instance and nails them on the recording, making for moments that are not only fun to listen to, but act as a clinic in whammy playing for any guitarists out there looking to better their technique in this area.
Overall, Unleashed is a highly entertaining collection of instrumental Rock guitar tracks that bring to the forefront the myriad of skills that Harant possesses as both a performer and composer. His playing is absolutely first rate, his tones are varied enough to keep the album exciting and each song is well written and craftily arranged. If his debut album is any indication of things to come, the Armenian-Canadian guitarist is well on his way to reaching the top of the instrumental guitar world, and most likely sooner than later.
Review by Matthew Warnock
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)