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John Huldt - 2008 - "Rules Do Not Apply"

(58:37, 'John Huldt')


****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Uncle Bob 3:17
2.  Someone's Looking for Attention 6:22
3.  Run Like a Freak 4:05
4.  Fly 4:17
5.  Nebula 5:25
6.  The Beauty of Simplicity 6:56
7.  Sticky Fingers 4:26
8.  The Sleeping Beauty 6:49
9.  The Strange Wonders of Professor Boltzmanns Factory 9:23
10. Well This Ain't Kansas 5:32

LINEUP:

John Huldt  guitars 
Philip Bynoe  bass 
Kal Drakopolus  drums 

Prolusion. John HULDT is a Swedish-born, US-based young guitarist. "Rules Do Not Apply" is his debut album and was self-released in 2008 to generally positive reactions. Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Al Di Meola are among his stated influences.

Analysis. Huldt's debut album does offer up a few nice twists, I'll have to admit that. The 10 compositions are dominated by music pretty predictable in scope in this genre, much of which was perfected by Joe Satriani 20 or so years ago on his "Surfing with the Alien" album; but there are a few points of interest that makes this album somewhat more interesting than your average shred-fest. With the introductions above, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that this venture is one firmly placed in the field of instrumental guitar-dominated excursions. The dominant stylistic expressions reside somewhere in between hard rock and heavy metal; with a multitude of guitar soloing and quite a few more or less shred-runs as the main features. Huldt is skilled as well as talented enough to insert detours into other musical territories, with jazz, fusion and blues as the main stylistic territories inserted into his guitar solo and riff pattern explorations. More often than not he reminds one of Joe Satriani or Steve Vai, but Al Di Meola and Wishbone Ash are other artists I hear similarities to on this production. Pretty close to his stated influences in other words, and not deviating much from the norm for this kind of creation. As a guitar player Huldt comes across as more than competent; he masters many stylistic expressions, is a pretty fast guitar player and has the technique to pull off some pretty quirky runs. He's an able composer too, and creative enough to realize that inserting jazz-tinged segments and taking on blues in between the segments where he shows off his pace and technique add a much needed variation that does keep the listener interested even if not guitarists themselves. But overall this album doesn't rise above the level of competent and skilled apart from three specific occasions, all those being the tracks opening this album. The first, Uncle Bob, delivers some pretty intriguing fusion and hard rock segments in a neat mix and then ends with some pretty sly and likable reggae. Someone's Looking for Attention is an aptly named creation, where Huldt shows off his skills and at the same time manages to conjure up a distinct atmosphere that makes this creation compelling despite treading in some pretty familiar waters. Finally, Run Like a Freak serves up some pretty familiar sounding melodic themes, I'd guess lifted from or inspired by folk music, and serves them at first in a frantic country style, then changes to a more neo-classical style and finally ends this excursion in a hectic but compelling Russian folk inspired stylistic expression. This last composition does come across as a tune made very much with a tongue-in-cheek attitude though; I do get the impression that this one is made to give the listener a good laugh first and foremost.

Conclusion. John Huldt is a capable guitarist and composer and does come across as a musician you might want to keep an eye on in the future. This debut album will appeal to fellow guitarists and aficionados of the instrumental hard rock guitar album first and foremost, but a few specific compositions as well as his general tendency to mix different styles into his tracks may also give this release a somewhat broader public than other releases in this genre.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 20, 2009
The Rating Room


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John Huldt


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