When Evile went on their brief hiatus to search for a new member I was quite disapointed. Largely because I’m a fan of the group, but also because I’m a fan of the former lead guitarist, Ol Drake. Ol seemed to subscribe to the Jeff Waters school of thrash guitar where just because you can play a blistering shred solo, doesn’t mean you should; a point of view sadly not shared all that widely. Happily he seems to have kept that mantra for his first and hopefully not last solo record under the name of Old Rake.
While many of you reading this will have undoubtedly heard of the project, and probably heard a track or two off of it, those of you coming in fresh might expect it to be another thrash record based on Ol’s past and the artwork. Instead, Old Rake is a purely instrumental guitar album and while there are metal moments, there are all sorts of other things going on at the same time.
Opening with Han Valen (absolutely no prizes for guessing the joke) and a tapping solo he apparently wrote when he was in his teens, it sets up the next forty minutes or so. As a side note, when he was 16/17, he wrote a Van Halen level tapping intro, when I was 16 I was overjoyed to learn the riff for Enter Sandman.
For some, the whole album will be a “time to eBay my guitars” moment, for others it’ll be an incentive to practise more (my night will be spent by a metronome) while for the rest it’s just nine enjoyable instrumental tunes. You can get a tab book for the album I should add, all I can say is good luck.
You’ll need it!
When it comes to instrumental guitar, three main figures generally pop into your mind, Satriani, Vai and Malmsteen. However, of all the instrumental albums out there, I would say Old Rake is closer to Paul Gilbert’s Get Out Of My Yard/Silence Followed By A Deafening Roar etc. It’s most evident in the bouncy, upbeat rhythm backing. Onions in particular could feature happily on GOOMY.
It’s also not mindless shred; don’t get me wrong, it’s wanky but it’s not wanky for the sake of wanking (too much wank in this sentence). Being able to pull back for songs like Emperor, which is a delight through headphones – panning is king, Karma and An Absence makes the moments where Ol does go full wank all the more hard hitting.
Emperor, as well as being quality through headphones, has a slight tinge of a 1980s martial arts movie where the lead characters *important person here* is killed and he vows vengeance. Just throwing that out there, makers of Kung-Fury.
For some reason, instrumental guitar players have an odd sense of humour and on Old Rake it’s no different with track titles like Spaceship Janitor (soundtrack for the new Red Dwarf series?) and I’ll Be Bach (Get it?) peppered through out.
The silly names don’t necessarily mean silly music though (ridiculous maybe). I’ll Be Bach is an almost rare example of a classical tune being covered well. We like to shred up Beethoven, Bach etc, it doesn’t always go well.
Full album sample
Like I said in the second paragraph, it’s not a metal record by any means but there are metal moments to keep the thrash fans happy, such as in the finale for Onions or the guest spot by the likes of Gary Holt during Guitarists Playing Guitars. The range of styles from metal to folk (Karma’s dark tinged folk dance sound for instance) to 80s shred to Oriental influences all combine well so that you don’t get overloaded by noodling despite it being solid guitar throughout.
On Spotify you can find Ol’s own track commentaries for the album, but if you like it I recommend going out and buying it so we can have more albums. As a fan of Ol Drake’s work I’m happy to hear more from him, and as a big fan of instrumental guitar albums I’m very happy. I’m excited to see the material live at Bloodstock (don’t clash!) so role on August, until then, enjoy a tremendously unwanky wanky album.
Old Rake is out now via Earache Records, you can follow Ol here on Facebook for more
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