HGR CD Review: Xander Demos

XANDER DEMOS – GUITARCADIA (no label) Currently performing with his own self-named band, plus tribute group James Rivera’s Sabbath Judas Sabbath, Pittsburgh’s Xander Demos has emerged into prominence for his immense guitar-shredding talents; earning awards and recognition from Steve Vai’s GuitarTV.com, A.J. Pero of Twisted Sister’s The Real Radio Show, endorsements from Suhr, McNaught and Conklin Guitars, and more. Mixed by C.J. Snare of Firehouse, Demos’ full-length CD, Guitarcadia, offers a guitar-shredding sonic paradise, ten tracks of full-force guitar fireworks. His amazing guitar shred displays speak for themselves, as Demos exhibits a melody-based style informed and influenced by such masters as Steve Vai, Vinnie Moore, John Sykes, Neal Schon, Eric Johnson and others. But besides Demos’ fast-firing arpeggios and fingerwork, melodies and arrangements also stand out through Guitarcadia’s journey. Compositions like the cruise-speed “Nothing Major” and the driving “Chase the Sun” establish jubilant melodies for Demos to work his guitar strings to, and his skills support the journey of each song. The disc-opener “Right Angles,” the title track “Guitarcadia” and “Metagalactic” enable Demos to explore more complex arrangements and melody lines. He cuts loose and burns the fretboards on the speedy assaults “White Knuckle Driving” and the more playful “Woodshed Sonata.” The disc contains two vocal numbers performed by the Xander Demos Band; “Under a Darkened Sky,” first created a decade ago when Demos played guitar in the Pittsburgh-based band Stronghold, and a guitar virtuoso update of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer,” one of two cover songs on the album. The other remake, an instrumental rendering of Chris DeBurgh’s hit “The Lady in Red,” closes out the album. Demos’ guitar skills are front and center throughout the album, and his fluid execution gives its own polish and smoothness to the compositions. The overall sound is big and broad, showing listeners that this artist and his band are easily suited to rocking arenas and colosseums. Fans of guitar fireworks will easily salivate over what Xander Demos has to offer on Guitarcadia, while fans of melody, arrangements and virtuosity should find plenty to celebrate here as well. (To obtain the CD, visit Xander Demos’s website, www.xanderdemos.com.)