Armored Saint-Symbol of Salvation
     © 2003 Metal Blade Records (Reissue)
Marty Friedman-Music for Speeding
    © 2003 Marty Friedman (Favored Nations)
'Symbol of Salvation' was definitely many things. The bands finest work in many peoples opinion not to mention one of the most influential heavy metal records ever. It was also some of guitarist Dave Prichard's last work. The album was originally released in 1991. Now in the year 2003 we are treated to a special edition consisting of 3 discs. Disc 1 is the newly remastered version of the album. Disc 2 is the demo versions of the entire album and the start of a very long and thorough interview. Disc 3 continues the interview and really holds the bulk of it. Also the artwork is slightly enhanced adding to the original artwork. As far as the first disc, most of you are well aware of this album. The music is amazing and with an update in sound quality, it's never sounded better. Not much that is too revealing there. The second disc is where you get the special edition content. As mentioned before, there are demo versions of every songs. Most will know that there can be some changes made to the final product when it finally hits shelves. This album is no exception to the rule although there aren't major overhauls, just some minor things here and there which is pretty common with most albums. The only track in the demo area that is missing is 'Half Drawn Bridge'. Anyway, after the demo versions the interview starts with Brian Slagel and the band. This is a very enjoyable interview that covers many aspects of the band including the loss of Dave Prichard to Leukemia, the making of the album, and a track by track explanation that is kinda cool. Not to be forgotten is the two videos included on disc 1 for 'Reign of Fire' and 'Last Train Home'. Overall this is a very nice package.

This was already one of my all time favorite albums. To have basically a full history behind it (which is what this package is in a nutshell) makes it even better. Guess you could say it's the icing on the cake. Being a big fan of this release I am definitely going to highly recommend it to any metal fan!
Marty Friedman returns with his latest solo effort that also showcases a few other well known musicians such as Jimmy O'Shea and Barry Sparks. When I look back at Friedman's career Megadeth definitely comes to mind, but at the same time he did some impressive solo stuff. The arrangements on those albums were quite a bit different than what you get with this release. This album not only features some amazing guitar work, but also some interesting programming mixed in. Take a listen to tracks such as 'Nastymachine', or 'Cheer Girl Rampage'. Not only are they a fusion of electronic element and rock, but they are great compositions as well. There is also some very melodic stuff on this album although not in the majority. Also, some of these tracks progress into a heavier vibe. The tracks that I refer to that are a bit lighter include 'Lust For Life', 'Lovesorrow', and 'Corazon De Santiago'. There are also some songs geared a bit more heavy that a fan might relate to his Megadeth era. 'Fuel Injection Stingray', 'Catfight', or 'Salt In The Wound' come to mind as the rockers in the bunch. One thing is for sure, this is a really strong effort from an excellent musician. The one thing that hit me about this release after listening to it is how much fun each song is. A lot of people shy from instrumental releases due to the complexity of the songwriting and maybe the showing off that goes on sometimes, but I'm here to tell you, this album really is alot of fun to listen to. A good incorporation of many elements with a great end result.

I always knew that Marty Friedman was talented, but with the variety of things I have heard him do through his career, this release just emphasizes his capabilities. This album could very well be one of the best instrumental releases of the year. If you tend to shy away from these type of releases, don't shy from this one because I think most will come away very satisfied. Recommended!