Arguably one of the best keyboardists in the Metal world (and an accomplished concert pianist to boot), Vitalij Kuprij of the Ukraine has been steadily pumping out dazzling instrumental albums for a while now. The virtuoso keyboardist has a flair for odd time signatures and choppy rhythms, much like his Lion Music label-mate Alex Masi. In addition to his solo work, Kuprij has also played in the Neoclassical Metal bands ARTENSION and RING OF FIRE. Now, Kuprij’s last solo effort (2004’s “Forward And Beyond”) didn’t fare so well under the judgment of The Metal Observer; fortunately, I can report that “Glacial Inferno” is both a technical showcase and something well worth spending sixty minutes of your time on.
Instrumental albums get a lot of flack for their supposed “wankery”, which ultimately translates to a full hour of straight soloing. The thing is, when you’re a pianist signed to Lion Music, who do you look to inspiration except the greatest wankers of all time? Bach, Mozart, Beethoven…these chaps had no intentions of merely being “accompaniment” musicians; they could solo like hell, and so they did. Kuprij understands this, and so there are no vocals to be found on “Glacial Inferno”. However, there are other virtuosi, including guitarist Michael Harris (check out his newly released “Orchestrate” album for more shredding madness), as well as the former ARK/Yngwie Malmsteen rhythm section of Randy Coven (bass) and John Macaluso (drums). Together, the foursome have crafted a fine album indeed.
“Glacial Inferno” is an excellent balance between mellow mid-tempo journeys (like the title track and “Dancing Flame”) and wild Neoclassical speed-runs (“Burning Ice”, “Fire In The Sun”, or album opener “Symphonic Force”). Of the two, I found the latter more enjoyable, mainly due to the warp-speed shredding both Kuprij and Harris bring out on the tracks. The songs are incredibly varied for an Instrumental album; each one has its own little “hook” or motif so you can instantly tell it apart from the others, which only makes sense on a vocal-less CD.
“Glacial Inferno” is worthy of a buy simply by itself; however, Lion Music just had to do us one better and couple it with Kuprij’s previously unreleased (and much sought-after) “Revenge” project. For those of you who love wild instrumental virtuosity but would really prefer a few vocals on the side, Kuprij has got you covered with the best of the best. Using the exact same band members that played on “Glacial Inferno”, Kuprij delivers a Progressive Metal masterpiece with help from such vocalists as the wondrous Joe Lynn Turner (RAINBOW, SUNSTORM), Dougie White (RAINBOW), and Apollo Papathanasio (FIREWIND). Adding these singers is icing on the cake, and with any luck, it’ll attract fans of more mainstream Metal fare into Kuprij’s circle. “Revenge” is an excellent album and should by no means be passed up.
Now that you know what an exceptional deal this limited edition two-pack is, here’s the catch: Lion Music is only printing 2000 copies. If you’re a fan of Kuprij’s past work or even a fan of Yngwie Malmsteen (seeing as nearly every single musician on both “Glacial Inferno” and “Revenge” has played with the Swedish shredder at some point), you’d best snatch this one up as soon as possible. I’m pretty sure “Glacial Inferno” is also seeing a standalone release, but as of right now, this combo is the only way for European fans to get their hands on the über-rare “Revenge”.
(Online April 10, 2007)