Ultraboss’ first full-length album, Kyrie Electron, remains one of the most unique and immediately identifiable creations within synthwave, and the guitar-wielding maestro maintains his unorthodox songwriting approach on the follow-up, Seven Deadly Synths. Ambitiously, Ultraboss has made every track on the album a collaboration, and the effort frequently pays off by ensuring that each one has its own unique flavor. The result is an appealing grab bag of music that holds something worthwhile for everyone.
The most prominent aspect of Ultraboss’ brand of synthwave music is his electric guitar solos, which pull the music into a different space from his contemporaries. The guitar style isn’t heavy metal, and isn’t exactly hard rock, either. Instead, the tone and approach often feels reminiscent of the progressive electric rock of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, as well as the more diverse songwriting approach of Ultraboss’ mentor, Jason Becker, and his guitar licks soar over the synthetic rhythms like a neon-hued eagle gliding across a world of computer chips and motherboards.
The guitar finds itself in a variety of surprising songwriting styles, from the piano-like notes of the Sebastian Gampl collaboration on “Overture” to ‘80s-style rock à la Bryan Adams on “All I Need Tonight” featuring Master System and synthwave’s most prolific guest vocalist, Dana Jean Phoenix. In the collaboration with Vincenzo Salvia on “Nostromo,” Ultraboss’ melodic riffing pairs well with the Italian artist’s distinctively detailed synth tones and chill Mediterranean vibes, making it easy to slip into the song’s mellow groove.
A few entries are likely to catch listeners off guard, particularly the raucous “Pretty for the City” with Rolly Rocket and the AOR-esque anthem of “Headgame Romance” with Jerry Galeries, though those looking for a more traditional synthwave sound will have no troubles finding it. Collaborations with Meteor on “Blinded by Darkness,” Tokyo Rose on “Lord of the Deep,” and Isidor on “Mountains of Madness” deliver synth-heavy tracks with a darkened edge that will please fans of the main synthwave genre. The album also finishes on a strong note with the spacey and downtempo “Ultimate Horizon.”
The 11 tracks and 45-minute running time provide plenty of music, and a healthy song variety makes it a pleasure to go exploring across the tracklist. Attractively smooth production and generally solid technical execution further add to the appeal by keeping presentation levels high. Ultraboss’ willingness to collaborate on every song is a worthwhile experiment, and it makes Seven Deadly Synths one of the most diverse and remarkable synthwave releases in recent memory.
Buy Seven Deadly Synths: Bandcamp
Check out What is Synthwave? 2018 Edition for a history of the synthwave genre
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