MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO – Hands Without Shadows

MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO - Hands Without Shadows


M.A.C.E. Records
Release date: October 18, 2005

User Review
6.5/10 (1 vote)

If you’re a long time fan, you might know him as Mike Batio (during his U.S.A. Metal and Holland days), Michael Angelo, or, for newer fans, by his current pen name, Michael Angelo Batio. Though he’s gone through a few name changes in the last few decades, one thing has remained consistent, Batio has been and still remains one of the premier speed guitarists in Metal… and with his aptly titled new release, Hands Without Shadows, there is continued evidence to convince everyone that Michael Angelo Batio remains as the premier speedster in Rock.

The eight-track release took fifteen months to complete, and the majority of it can best be described as a “Tribute CD.” Don’t let that deter you from buying this disc, though, as it’s not the stereotypical tribute release. Batio’s intent was to pay tribute to some of his influential guitarists/bands, which include Ritchie Blackmore, Randy Rhoads, Jimmy Page, Metallica, Aerosmith, and Jimi Hendrix. Several of the tributary tracks are actually patchworks of several of these guitarists’ songs all played by Batio, in his own unique way, in a cohesive and flowing manner. Additionally, Batio brought in a few guest guitarists to perform selected cameo solos within some of the songs themselves.

The album starts off in fine fashion, with one of the disc’s many highlights, a cover of Deep Purple’s “Burn.” Immediately, fans are treated to Batio’s furious finger stylings. Also immediately evident is the drum sound and work of veteran Bobby Rock, who does an outstanding job throughout on the kit, surely co-MVP material. The entire song follows the melody of the original, with a multitude of solos and guitar fills in between that will keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat. On this track, Mark Tremonti (“Creed” and “Alter Bridge”) plays the first solo, and he does a nice job of blazing a trail for Batio, who performs the second solo. Production is also spotless, so much so that at the beginning of Batio’s solo you can actually hear the millisecond breaks of him using one of his amazing fret boarding techniques.

“Tribute To Randy” is another standout tribute track with its nice potpourri of Blizzard Of Oz tunes, which pay the utmost respect to Randy Rhoads. The track flows well by merging together “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley,” and maybe hints at what Ozzy would have sounded like if he had hired Batio who had auditioned for Randy’s job. A nice touch was having ex-Ozzy/Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo play on this track. “Zeppelin Forever” (another mixed bag of cover tunes) also has some great, gut-wrenchingly blazing guitar solos from Batio. He seems to have found an exciting niche for playing “cover medleys” while keeping them edgy and entertaining.

The undisputed champion highlights of the disc, though, are the two originals, starting with the title track. The “Hands Without Shadows” track starts off with a nice, heavy, progressive rhythm, which leads into a passage that almost seems inspired by Al Di Meola/Tim Landers from Splendido Hotel, and then crosses over into yet a heavier Neo-Classical rhythm. In Michael’s own words … “I played Neo-Classical passages, string skipping, outside, legato passages, intense alternate picking passages, and tapped arpeggio passages in this song.” It stands on its own as one of Batio’s best songs in a long time! Also, as equally impressive is “Pray On, Prey” with its heavy chugging riff serving as one of the heaviest sounds Batio has offered of late. All fueled by a “King Kong-sized” pounding rhythm section via Rock and bassist William Kopecky.

Bottom Line, this is one of Michael’s best efforts in the last several years. His tribute tracks have an entertaining and seemingly fresh feel to them. He still manages to play fast, but also seems to have incorporated a bit more melody into his playing. Regardless of the tribute tracks, the disc is worth purchasing just to hear his two new original tracks. These two tracks alone constitute some of his best material he’s recorded. Hopefully he’ll follow up quickly with a disc full of originals of the same caliber as “Hands Without Shadows” and “Pray On, Prey.” This is definitely one for any Guitar Fanatic’s must-buy list!

Also worth mentioning is the extensive, technical “Making Of” diary that Batio has put together on the recording of this CD. It’s available online at his website, and is recommended reading for all “Guitar Nerds” out there.


Burn-Deep Purple * Tribute To Randy-Blizzard Of Ozz * Zeppelin Forever-Led Zeppelin * Hands Without Shadows * Wherever I May Roam-Metallica * Dream On-Aerosmith * Pray On, Prey * All Along The Watchtower-Bob Dylan (inspired by Jimi Hendrix)


Michael Angelo Batio – Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitars, Keyboards, Production
William Kopecky – Bass Guitars except “Tribute To Randy”
Bobby Rock – Drums
Mark Tremonti, Bill Peck, Doug Marks, and Stuart Bull – selected Guitar Solos
Rudy Sarzo – Bass on “Tribute To Randy”


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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