For 19 years, Jeff Loomis was known as the guitarist and songwriter for Nevermore and became well lauded for his phenomenal talent on the fretboard.
It was inevitable that he would record a solo album and 2008’s Zero Order Phase was released to critical acclaim. Nevermore disbanded in 2011 leaving Loomis free to place a greater emphasis on his career as a solo artist. So it is that he has just released his second solo offering, Plains of Oblivion.
Many were initially drawn to Nevermore because of Loomis’ guitar skills and there is no shortage of them on Plains of Oblivion, such as the thrashy “Escape Velocity” and the “djent” inspired album closer “Sibylline Origin” where he shows all those bedroom guitarists how it is really done. Loomis invites a few friends around to jam with him too, like the mid-paced epic granduer of “Continuum Drift” with ex-Megadeth and jazz fusion guitarist Chris Poland. On “Requiem for the Living” Loomis teams with former Nevermore cohort Attila Vörös and unleashes a tribute to all things Shrapnel Records/Neo-Classical – think Yngwie Malmsteen, but with a lot less fat and no egos.
It becomes apparent that you can take the boy out of Nevermore, but you can’t take Nevermore out of the boy. “Mercurial” is a mechanically driven composition that fires on all cylinders, with Marty Friedman – who got the nod over Loomis to replace Jeff Young in Megadeth – shredding away like it’s 1990. “The Ultimatum” is all out war between Loomis and the one and only Tony MacAlpine.
Setting Plains of Oblivion apart from the strictly instrumental Zero Order Phase are guest vocals spots slotted in nicely among the guitar insanity. The first is Ihsahn from Emperor who adds his unique vocal approach to “Surrender” that not surprisingly has a black metal vibe but compliments Loomis’ songwriting quite well. The other is Christine Rhoades – the female voice from Nevermore’s Dreaming Neon Black – who lends her vocals to “Tragedy and Harmony” and “Chosen Time”, a ballad that shows Loomis’ ability to change his musical focus and mesh with Rhoades’ vocals with ease. He flexes his acoustic guitar chops on “Rapture” where he flies off into Paco DeLucia and Al DiMeola-inspired territory.
The beauty of Jeff Loomis’ playing and songwriting is in full flight on Plains of Oblivion. He has quite a knack for writing catchy songs. Perhaps he has now earned himself a spot on a future G3 tour?
1. Mercurial (feat. Marty Friedman)
2. The Ultimatum (feat. Tony MacAlpine)
3. Escape Velocity
4. Tragedy And Harmony (feat. Christine Rhoades)
5. Requiem For The Living (feat. Attila Vörös)
6. Continuum Drift (feat. Chris Poland)
7. Surrender (feat. Ihsahn)
8. Chosen Time (feat. Christine Rhoades)
10. Sibylline Origin