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Greek guitar virtuoso Gus G., well known in rock and metal circles for his work as Ozzy Osbourne‘s guitarist and as leader of his own band FIREWIND, has just released his new solo album, “Quantum Leap”, via AFM Records. The official music video for the disc’s latest single, “Into The Unknown”, can be seen below.
“Quantum Leap” came together over the course of the worldwide pandemic that, unfortunately, prevented FIREWIND‘s self-titled album from 2020 from gaining any real momentum. Immobilized by the quarantine measures that kept him at home, Gus began compiling musical ideas to keep himself occupied, which led to the full-on effort to write and record an album during the summer of 2021.
“I didn’t make ‘Quantum Leap’ with the intention of it being the next one in the cycle of solo albums,” Gus admits. “It was more of a case of, ‘What else is there?’ I needed the creative outlet.”
Gus agrees with the suggestion that one has to make an instrumental album for him or herself; if people happen to enjoy it, that’s a plus. It’s an approach he takes with every album he makes, but if heavy metal is considered a niche market doing an instrumental album is an even smaller corner of that. Being a part of the music industry over the past 20 years has taught Gus that the business and the market has evolved to the point that instrumental albums are far more readily accepted compared to when he started.
“As an artist nowadays, you can basically do whatever you like and there’s an audience out there for it,” he says. “Instrumental music might not be a big seller, but everybody and can listen to anything, and there are no limits to what I can do. There’s a track on the record that’s a little bit synth-wave [‘Night Driver’], there’s bluesy ballad thing [‘Enigma Of Life’], there’s a track that has more prog elements [‘Into The Unknown’], there’s some power metal [‘Demon Stomp’, ‘Judgement Day’], so it’s all under the hard rock / heavy metal umbrella, but I wanted it to have some variety. It doesn’t sound like I wrote 10 different riffs on the low E string and put a bunch of solos over it. And there’s no excuse for anybody to say, ‘I like the music but I hate that type vocals…’ because there are no vocals. [Laughs]”
“Quantum Leap” was assembled in pieces, featuring new compositions and material taken from Gus‘s “riff vault,” where he stores unfinished ideas and revisits them when he’s able. The album started as a full-on solo outing, with Gus programming drums and playing guitar, bass and keyboards, but a chance encounter with drummer Jan-Vincent Velazco — who volunteered his services and subsequently blew Gus away — opened up the production. Producer/engineer Dennis Ward, who was responsible for mixing and mastering “Quantum Leap”, ended up laying down bass tracks on eight of the 10 tracks.
Unlike many instrumental albums, “Quantum Leap” doesn’t feel like a musical root canal or long and drawn-out brain surgery. Each of the 10 tracks are solid and compact musical ideas, with Gus‘s guitar acting as the voice. In this respect, writing “Quantum Leap” was a challenge because he is so used to writing in a specific formula utilizing vocals. He found himself falling into the loop of overplaying a few times during the production because of the lack of vocals, but was able to overcome the problem once he acknowledged it.
“When I first wrote ‘Exosphere’, for example, there were so many things going on in the track but it wasn’t saying anything,” says Gus. “I really needed to have the guitar taking a vocal approach. I knew that if I just kept the playing technical it wasn’t going to be enjoyable. So the playing isn’t always about technique, and once I found the formula it was easier to create melodies for the record.”
“I’m a guitar player and I cannot stand most instrumental guitar albums,” he adds. “The classic are the classics, but very rarely do I get into them because after the third track it just seems like an endless guitar solo where everything that sounds the same. That’s something I wanted to avoid on ‘Quantum Leap’ and I think I succeeded in doing that.”
“Quantum Leap” track listing:
01. Into The Unknown
03. Quantum Leap
05. Enigma Of Life
06. Judgement Day
08. Demon Stomp
09. Night Driver
10. Not Forgotten
11. Force Majeure (feat. Vinnie Moore)