Michael Angelo Batio’s “Intermezzo”
I came onto Instrumental Metal not too long ago. But I must say that this album is one of the most impressive I’ve laid my ears on. MAB soars here with his melodies, riffs, shred licks…and an aggressiveness that begs for you to stand up and conquer life.
This review comes awhile after the album has come out but I just HAD to write it. There was something in my gut just begging me to do it. I am enjoying this album too much to contain my joy inside me and keep it to myself.
Most of my metal listening friends have gone off and gotten married so I don’t have many people here in my hometown to share this with. Hopefully this resonates with metal fans all over the globe.
I hope you find this review helpful as this album marks a significant part of my life. Its gotten me through some heavy times.
Heavy music for heavy times. It’s perfect.
The Sound here is incredible. From Start to Finish this album does not disappoint. I cannot seem to stop playing it. I play it everyday. Yep, every single day.
When asked about the writing and recording process of Intermezzo, Batio has claimed that his goal was to create an album which “[had his] signature MAB sound, but not rehash or repeat riffs and solo passages from the past”, pointing out that he “used new riffs and new ways of putting solos together that [he hadn’t] used before”. The guitarist also noted that, in writing the material for the album, he recorded “more than 200 different song parts and ideas” on his phone whilst touring, refining the ideas later. Batio has also claimed that he believes Intermezzo to be his heaviest album released to date.
Speaking in an interview in 2013, Batio explained the meaning of the title Intermezzo and its relevance to the album:
The term intermezzo is an Italian musical term which denotes a piece of music that is in between two major parts of an opera. During longer operas there would be an intermission and during that time there would be musical pieces that would be played titled intermezzos. Sometimes these works would become more popular than what was being played before and after. I have had an amazing career up [until] now and there are a lot of amazing things going on within music. I consider myself to be in that intermezzo phase with my career.
The rest of this post is my original thoughts on the album.
Amazing. 10 out of 10.
Impeccable. 10 out of 10.
Unbelievably good. Rich and in your face. 11 out of 10. 😉
His best yet. And I feel the greatness coming even more in future releases.
My Most Factual, Humble Opinion on the Songs:
The title track contains a melody thats been ringing in my head for many months now and I love it. I can’t get enough of it. The drums starting from the intro are impeccable. Its such a good song.
The song then goes into a lightning fast lick then into a riff with some counterpoint that simply stuns you and leaves you with your jaw dropping.
Then he comes back in with that melody and some more shredding. Its just shredding goodness all around.
10 out of 10. 5 Stars. Whatever you want. If you like aggressive metal with some fantastic melodies and shred licks. This song will not only lift you up but make you want to play it over and over again.
My favorite part is the melody and the slow part before he hits you again with that melody which is one of the greatest melodies ever written in metal instrumentals.
Then for the Climax at 3:50 is my absolute favorite part that gives me CHILLS every single time I hear it. Its like I’m looking into the future and everything’s gonna be alright.
This monster of a riff that starts off the track will knock you off your seat. Play this at full volume and you’ll see what I mean. The effect used here fits perfectly. Listen for yourself.
Theres so much to this album that I’m too excited by it at times to do anything else. I HAVE to crank this album…Its part of my daily routine and it should be part of yours too. Just a tasty melody, vibrato all over your face followed by some extreme shred. Unmatched in his shred style.
Harmonized melodies satisfy your ear before the 3:00 minute mark before its off to some double bass drumming and into the Intro riff again. Phenomenal. Absolutely intense from start to finish.
More goodness through to the end of the song as it leads you into the next powerhouse track.
“Oceans of Time“
Just the title alone is absolutely draws you in.
A clean tone starts this one off into a cool little section that again sounds great. Then comes the distortion and your blood begins to flow. I begin to notice his compositional skills here as you have to listen for yourself.
In comes a piano riff from some distant place that just makes you salivate.
Then a jazzy part which is a nice change but then comes in a melody with an instrument that I do not know what it is. It plays over this heavy chugging riff from the depths of Mordor. I dont know what this means haha. But then comes in a solo over this blast beat by the drummer.
We’re not even close to the end yet at this point. I dont know how much time it took to make this album but to record these riffs you have to be one of the greatest players in the world. And all the memory…oh my God.
Just before the 5 minute break comes in the clean intro riff followed by pure HEAVINESS.
Get this album NOW! So you can hear the outro lick on this track. Simply amazing.
“I Pray the Lord“
Okay when this song plays your heart strings get tugged on and you cannot help but fall into a spell by this melody. Just a really soothing track. I have to play this song every time I play this album. Its just incredible. One of my favorites.
I crank this puppy at 11 and drive on the highway to get rid of all the shit that life can throw at you. You want to hear a melodically driven shred track this is the one.
I would love to talk to him personally and get his take on the harmony of this entire album and his composition techniques.
Actually I hope he reads this because I am absolutely floored by this album like I haven’t been in quite a long time.
If you like dark songs and heavy riffs this is a must album. I would put this album at album of the years. Ja Ja. Yes…years.
Those bell-like sounds give it this extra flavor that just spices things up for your ears.
“8 Pillars of Steel“
What do you get when you get 8 Guitar Virtuosos and put them all together on a track?
One badass hell of a track is what you get. Although when I first started listening to the album this is the song I would usually stay away from since it has sort of a happy melody to it. I like more the darker stuff on the album. But that soon changes as you’ll see.
What made this song for me was the when I saw the video. Totally have a new perspective on this song.
The Guitar players that show up in this video with their solos are as follows:
Comes in with masterful technique and phrasing. Probably my favorite.
Bad to the bone no doubt about it unbelievable shred solo.
In comes the melody before they go into the rest of the solos.
Pure balls in this solo. Shred Wizardry.
Not my favorite but probably the most unique. Some really cool phrasing in here.
Probably the best solo. My hands hurt listening to it. All the practice that probably went in to get those skills to pull off a mind blowing solo makes my hands hurt!!!
Not my favorite. Although a really good solo. Hell.. I can’t do that. Really coo l
Here it is.
“The Possession (A Tone Poem)“
Another melodic masterpiece. From start to finish. Melodies and shred. Blast beats. Riffs. Just some impeccable bends and vibrato on this track. Not that there aren’t on other tracks. This melody though is one of my favorites. It simply heals me every time I hear it. You can’t go wrong with this one. Fucking badass.
“5 Four Ever“
MAB ventures into jazz territory here. Complex chords, progressions and time signatures aplenty. Some pretty wild jazz lead on the this track too. Not my favorite track but I think he makes some of the jazz guys look bad with his playing here. I don’t know what do you think?
Some heaviness does come in around the 2:20 mark that satisfies the metal head in all of us.
Lastly it has yet another memorable melody by the great Michael Angelo Batio and the ending is a clean shred style lick thats just awesome before comes in some electricity for the final ending.
Very heavy and fast track. Lots of metal riffs and super fast lead. The beginning sounds like a monster. Like if someone is gonna scream their heads off after the first intro but instead comes some beautifully crafted lead guitar.
Short prelude to “Overload.” Nice clean guitar tone and some beautiful, clean arpeggios. Sweet and soothing to say the least.
Fast paced track featuring many guest guitarists trading mind blowing solos. Track starts with a quintessential heavy metal riff and then a pinch squeal to drive your neighbors out of their house!
This melody in this song is not your most common and thats exactly why should listen to it. Its full of guitar techniques. Mind blowing ones.
This is a track to sit and listen to and enjoy with no distractions so you catch all the solos cause it goes very fast!!!
Other badasses on this album:
Alex Stornello – Lead Guitar
Guthrie Govan – Lead Guitar
Chris Poland – Lead Guitar
Annie Grunwald – Lead Guitar
Michael Romeo – Lead Guitar
Florent Atem – Lead Guitar
Tobias Hurwitz – Lead Guitar
Ken Burridge – Lead Guitar
Darren Burridge – Lead Guitar
Bill Peck – Lead Guitar
Peter Ema – Lead Guitar
Joe Rose – Lead Guitar
Joe Stump – Lead Guitar
And thats my review. Let me know what you think. Lovers, haters…all of you. Post in the comments below.
I aspire to one day play like you MAB. !!!