Metal Fatigue (Remastered)

Metal Fatigue (Remastered)

Following his early-1980s releases I.O.U. and Road Games—the latter of which was the only product of his ill-fated Warner Bros. signing—Allan Holdsworth continued to set an entirely new standard of guitar virtuosity with 1985’s Metal Fatigue. There are many points of entry as a listener, but the most stunning achievements are the solos on “Home” and “Devil Take the Hindmost,” two of the finest guitar improvisations ever documented, featuring flawless acoustic on the former, and burn-it-all-down electric on the latter. In bassist Jimmy Johnson and drummer Chad Wackerman, Holdsworth had a rhythm section with an impeccable command of compositional detail, groove, and sonic richness. On keyboards was Alan Pasqua, a musical force in his own right, and a former bandmate of Holdsworth’s in The New Tony Williams Lifetime. Bassist Gary Willis and drummer Gary Husband, meanwhile, step in for “The Un-Merry Go Round,” an epic suite full of deep introspection and melodic color. (Two short alternate suite excerpts later appeared on the 2007 remaster of Holdsworth’s Wardenclyffe Tower.) And that’s just the instrumentals. Metal Fatigue’s bone-crunchingly dissonant title track, and the funky “Panic Station,” feature Paul Williams—Holdsworth’s old Tempest bandmate, and a significant presence on I.O.U. and Road Games as well. And the closing track, “In the Mystery,” highlights the singing of Singapore-born Paul Korda, a multitalented writer and producer who died in 2020. Unlike a lot of fusion shredders, Holdsworth incorporated lots of vocals in this period, a reminder of his prog-rock pedigree with U.K., Soft Machine, and others. Subsequent releases were limited to one vocal turn per album—often from the angelic-sounding Rowanne Mark—before they were phased out, and instrumentals became Holdsworth’s sole focus. Metal Fatigue was the last album before Holdsworth began recording on the SynthAxe, a paranormal-seeming instrument that gave his music another dimension.

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