Joe Satriani - What Happens Next

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Sony Music
Produced by Mike Fraser

One of the biggest challenges for any artist with a lengthy career is maintaining the standard of new material. It's a difficult task that hangs between constantly innovating and exploring as a musician, but also not venturing so far in a different direction that it alienates a fan base. As one of the most popular and highly regarded instrumental musicians of all time, Joe Satriani is no stranger to this. In particular, his previous album Shockwave Supernova saw the guitarist branch out in perhaps more ways than ever before, and while it couldn't necessarily be called a departure from Satriani's usual style, it was arguably a darker and more ambient sounding album than anything that had preceded it.

On this latest release, while What Happens Next does share some qualities with Shockwave Supernova, it's very much a more classic sounding Satriani album. For instance, the opening track Energ offers a huge riff with some furious playing from Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith on drums, while Headrush is a ridiculous boogie with moments of ambient melodies dotted throughout. Other standout tracks come in the forms of the fusion-tinged Smooth Soul and the deep-seated groove of Super Funky Badass. The album also features several calmer tracks like Forever And Ever and Cherry Blossoms, which offset the huge rock numbers for a satisfyingly varied release.

In terms of production, it's also worth noting that What Happens Next is perhaps one of the biggest sounding albums the guitarist has released in the years. It's a warmer and fatter sounding album than Shockwave Supernova and its predecessor and Unstoppable Momentum, which is ideal for the overall vibe of this album: that of big, punchy, rock. It's likely that much of this can not only be attributed to Satriani's long-time producer Mike Fraser but also to the result of having more of a band feel on several of the tracks due to the inclusion of the formidable Smith and Hughes.

All things considered, What Happens Next is another strong album from Satriani, and while it's perhaps not as adventurous as the last one, it certainly couldn't be considered weaker. If anything, What Happens Next is the ideal album for long term Satriani fans, given that it offers a selection of strong new material that is very much in vein of old-school Satriani without re-treading too much ground.

Tracklist: Energy / Catbot / Thunder High On The Mountain / Cherry Blossoms / Righteous / Smooth Soul / Headrush / Looper / What Happens Next / Super Funky Badass / Invisible / Forever And Ever

Photo by: Joseph Cultice

Written by James Abel
More: 2018, Albums, Instrumental,

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