MIKE CAMPESE – Electric City

MIKE CAMPESE - Electric City
  • 6.5/10
    MIKE CAMPESE - Electric City - 6.5/10


Release date: August 5, 2010

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Just when you thought there were enough “Virtuosos” or “Shredders” out there another one pops up on the music scene. The fact is Mike Campese has been around for some time and has seven solo albums under his belt dating back to 2000. Electric City is allegedly his heaviest to date.

It is becoming commonplace nowadays that almost any guitarist that shows up on the music scene with somewhat accomplished playing skills or abilities is being labeled as or given the name “Virtuoso.” Just because a musician can play fast or can shred away at his 6-string doesn’t automatically qualify him as being a “Virtuoso.” Some listeners of Campese’s latest release will have their doubts in this regard.

It is a true fact that Mike Campese is quite an accomplished musician with the resume to back it up. Not only is he a session guitarist having graduated with honors from the well-known and respected Musicians Institute of Hollywood (GIT-Guitar Institute of Technology), he also writes for several guitar magazines (Guitar World, Guitar One, and Guitar Player), writes music lessons for several on-line Websites (Guitar9.com, ibreathemusic, Chops From Hell, Shred Academy, Premier Guitar, and others), and teaches over 60 students weekly. Guitarists unable to take lessons from Campese directly will be happy to know that he has also released three instructional videos (DVDs). Campese’s most notable stint was with Trans-Siberian Orchestra back in 2004. He worked on their The Lost Christmas Eve album and received a gold record for his efforts.

There is a lot of talent and skill in those hands and fingers that Mike possesses, which is why it is so difficult to say that Electric City isn’t as good as it is being made out to be. It just doesn’t blow you away or get you excited in any way, shape, or form, and this a good example where the term “Virtuoso” won’t fly. The three tracks with vocals find that those vocals do more to hurt the songs than help. Perhaps “Cruisin Across the Mojave” might slide by, but not the other two. Then there are way too many instrumental tracks that are okay up to a certain point, but then get repetitive to the point of annoyance. If a few changes or variations would have been thrown in on most of these tunes, then perhaps some of them would have graded higher.

“Heavy Thing” is probably the heaviest of the 14 tracks and aptly titled. It kicks ass, bottom line. The song that really stands out is “Camelryde,” the last track and possibly the best tune on the album. In between the worst and the best are tunes that bring out mixed feelings.

It’s a shame this album turned out the way it did because it had so much potential if done correctly. It started out with a kick in the pants with “Eleventh Degree”, but quickly went south with the repetition problem. “Over the Top” might be one exception to all of this. It is a fingering and picking exercise to the nth degree with blazing arpeggios, but actually done in a tasteful fashion. The one drawback is that it is too long. The tunes that have the changes and variations throughout this album are the ones that stand out. One track in particular is “Napali Coast” that proves this point outright. This is perhaps a Top 3 track.

Maybe part of the problem with this album is that it’s too long, coming in at roughly 76:29 minutes. If there was less offered, perhaps some of that repetitiveness might fall along the wayside. Either way, this could have been a brilliant album if done differently or moved ahead in another direction from the start.


  • George Fustos

    George was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He has engineering degrees in Chemical and Electrical Engineering. He favors Metal, Rock, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Blues, and even some Jazz and Motown (depending on the tune). He used to dabble with the bass quite some time ago. His most influential bassists are Jaco, Billy Sheehan, Stu Hamm, Geddy Lee, and John Entwistle (RIP Ox). Band-wise he's really into Rush, Tool, early Metallica, Pink Floyd (including Waters and Gilmour as solo artists), The Who, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Halford, Joe Satriani, certain Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins (Blues guitarist), Motörhead, and a German band called Skew Siskin that Lemmy says in an interview as being "the best band out there today."

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