Less than a year ago, Racer X more or less surprised the world (me, anyways) with their reunion album, "Technical Difficulties". So they once again surprised me (and possibly the world) by releasing another album on such short notice, "Superheroes".

The title track right away convinces the listener that this is a no-holds-barred album of instrumental virtuosity. Or perhaps I should limit that somewhat - an album of unlimited guitar virtuosity. Although drummer Scott Travis and bassist John Alderete play very well and form a solid basis for Paul Gilbert to weave his web of notes, it is really this guitarist who shines throughout the album. There is a lot of amazing guitar work, even on the otherwise more average tracks such as "Dead Man's Shoes" and "Mad at the World". Jeff Martin will never be my favourite singer, though on this album he manages to squeeze in a pretty good growly style in "Evil Joe".

Now let me tell you, right away, that I don't mind Paul Gilbert's omni-presence at all. Those of you who've read some of my other reviews will know that I appreciate good chops and technical guitar prowess. But I know for a fact that John Alderete is an amazing bassist, and I would have loved to hear some more of him. Even the two instrumentals (the superb "Viking Kong" and the merely excellent "King of the Monsters") barely allow him to show off his stuff like he did in "Scarified" in days now long gone. Be that as it may, "Superheroes" has a lot of interesting music to offer. Apart from the two instrumentals, which are inevitably the climaxes, there's the driving title track, as well as the rather cool Blue Oyster Cult cover "Godzilla" and the more glam-style-like "O.H.B." and "Let the Spirit Fly".

All in all, "Superheroes" is more convincing than "Technical Difficulties", especially because it doesn't boast kindof superfluous rehashes of their old songs like that one did. What we have here is one of 2001's finest CDs!



Written February 2001


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