Divided by Darkness Review

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To say the least, 2019 has been a lackluster year for the heavy metal scene. In 2018, metal music had an underground renaissance. New artists have made their presence known in the mainstream and classic acts have declared that age really is just a number to these rock stars. Judas Priest released Firepower, not only one of the best metal albums of the entire decade, but their most rambunctious and ambitious sounding records they’ve produced in the last thirty years. Not to mention the revival of the Stoner/Doom Metal scene with Sleep’s comeback album, The Sciences and the commercial success of Ghost’s Prequelle. 2019 had huge shoes to fill after the surprisingly remarkable efforts of last year. For the most part, those shoes have not been filled. Perhaps the most awaited project for this year was Tool’s first studio album in thirteen years, Fear Inoculum, that had the band sounding incredible sonically. However, it is clear when listening to most of the songs on that album that there was no real direction the band wanted to go into. Nearly every song is drawn out over ten minutes when there is no need. Overall, a disappointing effort from a highly anticipated release.

However, one group that does not seem to miss a single step is Arizona-based band, Spirit Adrift. Starting as a side project for Nate Garrett, guitarist for Gatecreeper, Spirit Adrift started musically as a revivalist doom metal band. Drawing heavily from doom pioneers Black Sabbath and Candlemass, their sound involved slow and crunchy guitar riffs that left the earth shaking after every string pluck. This sound is especially evident in their sophomore release, Curse of Conception. Yet on their newest LP, Divided by Darkness, the band embraces other subgenres of metal to present in their own sound. And by all means, they succeeded. Released on May 10th, 2019, this record runs with the strengths shown on Curse of Conception and amplifies those same strengths across the board. In Spirit Adrift’s heaviest and most ambitious release yet, the band combines elements of traditional heavy metal, New Wave of British Metal, and even traces of thrash metal appear on some tracks as well as retain some of their doom roots. While they are not making music geared more towards the mainstream metal scene, Divided By Darkness is much more inviting than Nate’s previous albums. The guitar riffs are fast paced and bright, Nate’s vocals are soaring, and just about every instrument sounds great here.

Let’s get straight into this review. The way I rate my albums is that I go track by track and explaining the songs’ highlights, lowlights, and my overall thought of each song. To summarize my thoughts of the record, I have listened to this album in its entirety at least ten times since its release in May.

Track by Track Review

The album begins with “We Will Not Die.” In the first ten seconds, you can tell this record is here to make a statement as hard-hitting snare drums followed by high energy guitar riffs to match come flying through the speakers. The verse and chorus riffs are somewhat reminiscent of an Iron Maiden song the way the riffs are aggressively laid. Out of nowhere, a thrash metal section appears in the song’s bridge which fits surprisingly well. If this song isn’t a good way to prepare for the musical odyssey that is Divided by Darkness, I don’t know what is.

The title track, “Divided by Darkness,” starts in a similar way as the former track, yet focuses on much slower, heavier riffs. Nate’s lyricism mostly involves the use of science fiction, fantasy, and death as he sings about traversing the universe with a cosmic entity. The guitar solo on this song has the two guitar players soloing in a harmony, which is always a nice touch to add.

“Born into Fire,” possibly the heaviest song on the entire album, and my personal favorite is loud and authoritative with the daunting guitar work by Nate Garrett and Eric Wagner. The pedal point licks are a very nice touch to this song. Throughout the song, Nate is singing “I am the word that can’t be spoken // I am the bond that can’t be broken,” and “We are the earth, ravaged war // We are the fire burring all.” The track shows a beautiful contrast with Nate soaring vocals when he hits the higher notes and the guitars riffs being low and heavier than a cinderblock.

The ballad of the album, “Angel and Abyss,” starts off with this wonderfully crafted guitar intro with every note filled with feeling before going into a slow, clean riff. Nate begins singing about the feeling of depression and suicide. It’s the most emotional track considering the depressive state Nate Garrett was in years ago. Now, he is conveying how he felt by changing between mellow and heavy with each passing verse and chorus before exploding in this cataclysmic reaction that sees the band going full thrash metal once again. Once could say this section can be representative of Nate releasing all his emotions out at once in a beautiful explosion. This is probably the best sounding track on the album and the most worth listening to by itself.

Starting side two is “Tortured by Time.” Immediately, this cacophony of harmonized guitar riffs enters the ears in a dramatic way. Although I haven’t said this before, but the production is incredibly clean, and no instrument is buried in the mixing. The production quality is even more evident on Tortured by Time as the vocal work by Nate Garrett is just as powerful as the hard-hitting drums and roaring guitars. Not to mention this song has the most doom metal elements on the entire album which is shown with the slow, churning guitar work during the chorus and bridge. A fantastic track in every sense.

Track six is titled “Hear Her.” The fastest paced song on the album, sounding like it would fit perfectly on Judas Priest’s Painkiller album. As the shortest and most straightforward song on Divided by Darkness, there are no unexpected turns that the other songs take. From the repetitive prologue guitar riffs to the intricate interlude from the chorus to the short but sweet solo at the song’s climax. It’s a quick, aggressive rocker that kicks you in the teeth. Hear Her is a great song and a killer entry for heavy metal.

That leads into “Living Light.” In this song, the drums take the spotlight as drum and guitar patterns here mesh together greatly. I sadly would have to say this is the weakest track on the album even though I still think it’s a great song. The energy and drive that is all over the other songs doesn’t show up as prominently as “We Will Not Die” or “Angel and Abyss.” By no means is this a bad song. It just so happens to be the weakest number in this collection of tracks.

Last but certainly not least is “The Way of Return.” This is an entirely instrumental piece, but the words all come from the guitars with the way Nate Garrett and Eric Wagner move through their scales in a way that almost sounds like a vocal melody. At the two-minute mark, the song takes this clean, mellow interlude which is a beautiful addition to the song before building back up into their distorted riffs. As a way to mark the grand finale, the guitars get brighter as they both harmonize this fast lick repeatedly until the music eventually fades out. A great instrumental song that belongs on the album and deserving of closing the record.

Full Album Review

Divided by Darkness is an album that receives many comparisons from Metallica’s sophomore record, Ride the Lightning. In many aspects, that is correct. Both albums have very strong openers along with the power ballads, “Fade to Black” and “Angel and Abyss,” appearing on the fourth track. To even further solidify the similarities, the last song on both albums are long winded instrumental pieces that bring the record to a satisfying halt. However, that is where the similarities end for both albums. While Ride the Lightning cemented Metallica as kings of the thrash metal scene, Divided by Darkness leaves Spirit Adrift with a multitude of options to choose from. With the massive experimentation of various other metal genres with just about all of them working to the band’s advantage. Nate Garrett and his band now have the choice to move in any musical direction they want. Now, that isn’t to say Divided by Darkness was just to test the waters on what Spirit Adrift could do. They were drawing on strengths that no one knew the band had, and it worked magnificently. One small gripe I do have with this album, although it is very minor, is Living Light. Although it is a good song, it does sound similar to the title track, which leaves me to wonder what direction Nate wants to take. Does he want an entire album to sound like this? I don’t know.

Suggestions aside, Spirit Adrift have proven that they can carry the flag for metal music with Divided by Darkness to prove it. As a band who shed their doom roots for a more accessible and unique sound, there are both high hopes and high expectations for the Arizona-based metal outfit’s next project.

Rating

9.0/10

10 Best Rock Albums of 1971

If you take a poll asking people what they believe the best year in rock was, odds are they will say 1971. If not, then it will likely be in their top five. In just one short year, rock and roll music as an entire genre was shaken up forever. Classic bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Who placed themselves at the top of the mountain while new acts like David Bowie and Led Zeppelin were leaving infinite ripples in the scene. Trying to narrow all of the amazing albums that were released is harder than understanding The Dark Side of the Moon on your first listen. Nevertheless, I have pulled together a list of the ten greatest rock albums from 1971. This list is in no particular order since trying to rank these albums would be an even more difficult task; There are several albums here that really do deserve the Number 1 spot. Let’s get straight into it!

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The Allman Brothers Band, At Fillmore East

One of the biggest problems people usually have with live albums is that they contain a lot of mistakes like any live performance. As bands cannot always play material perfectly when it’s live, this statement is entirely justified. However, there are some diamonds in the rough when it comes to near perfect live albums. At Fillmore East is one of those diamonds that were found in that catalog. Everything clicked during this recorded performance, especially during the twenty-three minute version of “Whipping Post”, which is unlike anything you’ve ever heard. It is without question that At Fillmore East is the not only the best live album of 1971, but one of the best live albums ever released to the public!

Hunky Dory

David Bowie, Hunky Dory

Perhaps the best quality David Bowie was known for in his illustrious career was his willingness to morph and adapt. Just when you thought you had seen every side of the future Aladdin Sane, he would turn around and reinvent himself. This LP is no exception. Shedding his baroque pop and folk rock influences, Bowie looked to glam rock for more commercial success. Luckily, he hit a home run with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, but Hunky Dory was no slouch in its own right. David showed the world what he was capable of as a true artist between the beautiful piano ballad, “Life on Mars”, and the oddball art rock track, “Andy Warhol”. With David Bowie rapidly reaching his peak back in the early 1970’s, this album was a great first step in the right direction.

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Funkadelic, Maggot Brain

While Funkadelic never gained the mainstream attention that sister band, Parliament, they had the ability to defy musical barriers. While Parliament remained consistent with their funky roots, Funkadelic was able to combine funky soul music with psychedelic rock to create one of the most original and unique sounds of that era. This album was the shining moment of guitarist, Eddie Hazel, who’s work on here is nothing short of soulful and brilliant. While the entire album is a fantastic experience to listen, the true standout song is the title track. Once again, Eddie Hazel performs a guitar sonata unlike anything heard before. When looking for a funk rock album to spin, this one should immediately be your go to.

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Black Sabbath, Master of Reality

In the year prior to 1971, The Founding Fathers of Metal looked untouchable with their two previous albums, Black Sabbath and Paranoid. Black Sabbath exploded onto the scene with this dark and heavy sound not heard before in psychedelic rock. And just when you thought that they couldn’t get any better than that, the band releases a near masterpiece known as Master of Reality. This album takes the best aspects of the previous LPs and continues to build on those strengths. Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals still great, Tony Iommi delivers monstrous riffs on tracks such as Into the Void and Children of the Grave. However, it must be said how surprising it is how Black Sabbath made yet another classic in 1972’s Vol. 4. When ranking the band’s discography in order, Master of Reality should unquestionably be near the top of that list.

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Yes, Fragile

What a time it was to be a progressive rock fan! Bands like Yes, Genesis, ELP, Jethro Tull, and Uriah Heep were breaking into the industry and pushing musical boundaries that were left alone during most of the 1960’s. By fusing psychedelic rock and jazz characteristics together, the end result was a time signature shifting, progression changing series of sounds that culminated into something eccentric but beautiful. Perhaps the most important prog album released in the year of 1971 was Fragile. On the album that debuted Rick Wakeman, he showed just how vital of a component he was to the group. With tracks such as Roundabout, South Side of the Sky, and Heart of the Sunrise on Fragile, Yes cemented themselves as a force in the progressive rock scene.

ImagineJohn Lennon, Imagine

Lennon’s most successful project since the breakup of the Beatles was one to be remembered. Constantly clouded in controversy since his spouse, Yoko Ono, was credited as the one who broke up the Fab Four, Lennon tried to look past that and make an album that would exceed the quality of Paul and George’s solo material. The end result was a mixture of sweet piano ballads, rock tracks that could have been used on Let It Be, and even a blues number. The obvious standout song of this album is the title track. The song where John is telling us to literally imagine what life would be like without religion or possessions. While him saying these things was very outspoken of him back in 1971, Lennon is painting a picture of what an ideal Utopia would look like and how it would operate. Something like that is true art!

Meddle

Pink Floyd, Meddle

Meddle is the album that many fans consider the turning point of Pink Floyd. Beforehand, the band was still partaking in experimental rock inspired by original founder, Syd Barrett. On Meddle, the group was beginning to find their sound in progressive rock. A move that they haven’t looked back on until their disbanding in 2014. From listening to the opening track, One of these Days, you knew you were in for a rollercoaster ride. Of course the main reason Meddle is held in such high regard is because of it’s B side. An entire side consisting of a twenty-three minute epic known as Echoes showed the world just what Pink Floyd was capable of. While commercial success would be much more apparent on later releases, this album is where the “Pink Floyd sound” began.

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Led Zeppelin IV

There is no way this compilation of songs wasn’t going to make it on this list. IV is without doubt one of the best albums made in the 1970’s in general, let alone 1971. But instead of me rambling about how good this album is, I’m going to tell you why it is legendary. This is where Robert Plant’s vocals reached their peak, John Bonham and John Paul Jones were holding down the rhythm section like an impenetrable fort, and Jimmy Page had some of his tastiest guitar licks and riffs. The natural chemistry between this band is shown in all of the tracks, especially fast paced ones like Rock n’ Roll and Four Sticks. Also, who could forget the magical track that is Stairway to Heaven. What starts as a peaceful acoustic ballad turns into this high intensity epic within the span of eight whole minutes. However, the real highlight of this album is When the Levee Breaks. Bonzo produces a drum beat unlike anything ever heard and the band comes up with one of the smoothest blues rock numbers ever recorded. While Led Zeppelin IV may not be my favorite album by them, (that right goes to II) I can definitely say that it is their best work.

Sticky Fingers

The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers

The Rolling Stones’ future was looking very uncertain after the release and eventual death of founding member, Brian Jones. While Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were the main songwriters of the group, Jones was the musical genius who experimented enough to make The Rolling Stones authentic and original. But when the Stones released Sticky Fingers, they proved to the world that they could carry on without Brian Jones. Not only that, but they came back onto the scene with a hunger not seen since Beggars Banquet. Those that love that traditional Stones sound would love this album. From up-tempo rockers like Brown Sugar and Bitch to slower acoustic pieces like Wild Horses, Sticky Fingers really has it all. It is crazy to believe that the Stones would be as relevant as they were in the 1960’s. I definitely believe it has something to do with the success of this album

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The Who, Who’s Next

What better way to end this list than with The Who? The band was still red hot after the release of Tommy and Live at Leeds. What more could they bring to the table? They could bring a lot more in fact! From the opening keyboard riff on Baba O’ Riley to the deafening screech heard on Won’t Get Fooled Again, Who’s Next Will keep the listener interested. Just like how Zeppelin was on point when recording IV, The Who were at the top of their game when making Who’s Next. Not to mention that the album has some of the first instances of power ballads. Songs like The Song is Over and Behind Blue Eyes provided the groundwork of what the power ballad would become. And no one could think of a better ending to an album than Won’t Get Fooled Again. That track will always be in contest for the greatest song The Who made.

 

Top 10 Neoclassical Guitarists

I’m sure everyone can agree with me when I say shredding is really cool. Nothing truly sounds as crazy as someone playing ten notes per second with such energy and preciseness. Neoclassical guitar playing originated in the late 1960’s when psychedelic and blues rock was dominating the music scene. Most guitarists like Eric Clapton and Keith Richards used the blues as their background for rock music during that time period. That was until two men named Ritchie Blackmore and Uli Jon Roth of the bands, Deep Purple and Scorpions respectively, began impressing fans with his type of guitar playing that had never been heard before. Thus a new wave of fresh and exciting guitar styles was born.

Much like my previous list, Top 10 Blues Guitarists, I rank the musicians based on several factors. Those factors include the impact they made in their music genre, their overall technique, and my personal opinion. Without further ado, let’s begin ranking the Top 10 Neoclassical Guitarists!

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10. Michael Romeo

When looking at all of the great shredders that have appeared over the last twenty years, Michael Romeo is the unsung hero of them all. Those that do know him are aware of his work with Symphony X… And what a fine job he does playing guitar for that band! His arpeggios being played over a harpsichord is actually something really interesting to hear. Imagine having Symphony X without Micheal Romeo there to play those insanely quick arpeggios with that clear and crisp tone behind it. It’s just impossible to think about!

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9. Joe Stump

Many consider Joe Stump to be an Yngwie Malmsteen rip off.  To some extent, that is a true statement. Yngwie is one of his biggest influences, and he does sometimes take too many of his techniques. Though, being considered a clone of one of best neoclassical shredders is nothing to be ashamed of. My guitar teacher was taught by Joe Stump at Berklee College of Music, and he credits Stump to being the man he learned the most from during his time there. That means anyone that were educated at Berklee were possibly taught all sorts of different techniques by Stump. Though he may not be the most original shredder, he is certainly one of the better neoclassical artists!

Tony-MacAlpine

8. Tony MacAlpine

MacAlpine, like many others on this list, was a neoclassical virtuoso that made his presence known during the surge of neoclassical shredders in the mid-1980’s. Inspired by both Yngwie Malmsteen and Vinnie Moore, Tony would make thirteen solid albums showcasing his musical talent across his thirty year career. Yet, the same comparisons were made between himself and his predecessors as countless other shredders that came after Yngwie. Nonetheless, he did what most guitarists could only dream of, earning him the Number 8 spot on this list.

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7. Vinnie Moore

Truly a guitar prodigy, Moore began his career as a musician when he was only a teenager. Vinnie had the convenience of making his presence known in the music industry shortly after Yngwie’s Rising Force debut album released; thus, all of the other future neoclassical players would look towards those two guitarists. One thing to point out was that his sweep picking was impeccable! Those he has influenced over the years include Tony MacAlpine, Paul Gilbert, and many others during that time. Moore now plays for the hard rock band, UFO, and he is for sure a suitable replacement for Micheal Schenker!

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6. Ritchie Blackmore

I could write an entire article about how important Richie has been to not only neoclassical metal, but to rock and metal in general! However, this list is about neoclassical metal only. When blues rock was dominating the landscape in the late-1960’s and early 1970’s, Ritchie was the first guitar player to use a classical sounding style to the electric guitar. Listen to the track “April” by Deep Purple. The solo that closes out that song includes some of the first instances of sweep arpeggios in rock music. Amazingly, his solos would only continue to improve in quality during his tenure in his own project, Rainbow. Though he used pentatonic scales during most his guitar solos, his playing laid down a style that many future players would inherent.

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5. Uli Jon Roth

If Ritchie Blackmore invented neoclassical guitar playing, Uli Jon Roth is the one to perfect it! While Ritchie would change back and forth between blues and neoclassical styles, Uli would dive head first into the latter. Embracing the connection between classical music and heavy metal, Roth spent his time transcribing pieces of music to the electric guitar. He was able to take the Scorpions to another level that unfortunately did not carry over when Matthias Jabs replaced him. Listen to “The Sails of Charon” and try to tell me that it doesn’t sound ahead of its time! It’s a shame how no one knew of his talent until after he left the Scorpions. Yet, he still tours the globe showing fans just what he is capable of doing on guitar. That is why the first neoclassical purist earns the Number 5 position!

Marty Friedman In Concert - San Francisco, CA

4. Marty Friedman

When I’m finished making this blog post, Marty is probably working on another J-pop album. His career has for sure taken one of the biggest left turns in the industry, yet his talent as a neoclassical guitar player is still unquestionable. His playing is actually one of the most unique you will ever hear coming from a guitarist of his background. Friedman often fuses both Eastern and Western styles into his music, making some interesting sounding shredding to say the least. His contributions as a skilled musician took thrash metal band, Megadeth, to new heights with their 1990 release, Rust in Peace. He showed that you could easily incorporate pedal point licks and sweep arpeggios into thrash metal. Not to mention his work with Jason Becker in Cacophony being one of the best neoclassical collaborations to ever exist! Marty has a storied career that any upcoming shredder would strive to follow… besides the J-pop part. With those reasons, Marty Friedman earns the Number 4 spot!

 

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3. Randy Rhoads

When famous individuals die, fans often exaggerate how good that individual actually was instead of remembering him or her for what they actually are. Randy Roads is not one of those individuals! Everything about him was revolutionary during his time. Even though he was always compared to Eddie Van Halen, (I don’t really understand the comparisons to be honest. Each guitarists’ forms of shredding were different in just about every way. Eddie’s form of shredding was through pentatonic scales, while Randy used various different techniques pulled from traditional classical music.) Randy stood apart from all of the other guitar players during the early 80’s with his classically trained style. It really was a shame that he passed away in the plane crash in 1982 since there were reports that the third Ozzy Osbourne record was supposed to take the neoclassical sound to the next level. Nonetheless, Randy can be credited for bringing so many different and unique guitarists into the world of music.

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2. Yngwie Malmsteen

This is likely the point where most readers would comment, “Why isn’t Yngwie first?!” I understand why many would put him at Number 1, and for good reason. He was “THE” neoclassical shredder back in the 80’s. From Alcatrazz, to Rising Force, to his solo endeavors, Malmsteen always remained at the top of the pedestal. Unlike Ritchie Blackmore and Randy Rhoads, Yngwie soaked his playing style neck deep into neoclassical technique instead of fusing blues and classical music together. Using that style, he was seen as one of the fastest guitarists that the world had seen. His pedestal was so high up, almost every shredder that came after him were called “Yngwie clones”. It is safe to say that there could only be one other person that could be more talented than Mr. Malmsteen.

Jason Becker

1. Jason Becker

Here we are, the only person that could be considered more talented than Yngwie. I am glad to say that Mr. Becker earns the Number 1 spot on this list, and for good reason. Jason was a budding artisan with his whole future ahead of him. At just seventeen, Marty Friedman took notice of his talent, and the two formed the neoclassical metal group, Cacophony. Then, in 1988, Jason crafted one of the greatest shred albums of all time when he was only eighteen years old! Even David Lee Roth saw the talent in him by allowing him to join Roth’s band for one album. Sadly, Jason was diagnosed with ALS when he was in his twenties. Yet, his career didn’t stop there. He still composes music by using a computer at his side. Perhaps the most important reason as to why Becker was placed first instead of Yngwie is because Jason was completely original. Most shredders that made their mark after Malmsteen were viewed as rip-offs, but not Jason. He had something unique and special about him. Jason Becker is surely one of a kind, and there will never be another like him!

Top 10 Blues Guitarists

What more can be said about the blues? It is quite simply the foundation to almost all modern guitar playing. Without it, there would be no bands like The Black Keys or Royal Blood using their crunchy riffs and compelling guitar solos. Even classic acts such as The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin would be lost without the pathway the blues set beforehand.

Today, we will be looking at ten of the best guitarists that could play the blues. The way I am going to rank my lists is that I will look at their influence they left on the blues scene as well as my own opinion on the player. Note: This list will only include guitar players that played electric guitar. Acoustic blues players like Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt will not be on this list. While they were incredible guitarists, their playing style were vastly different from the blues that most people know and love today. Without further ado, let’s jump straight into this list!

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10. Albert Collins

Proclaimed as “The Master of the Telecaster”, Albert Collins brought a different aspect of the blues with playing in a much more up-tempo style than his contemporaries. Playing what is now called “Jump Blues”, Collins created fun songs that were easy to dance to and play in the background of a public gathering. It’s no wonder how his fellow Texans, Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, were heavily influenced by The Master since his music was so ahead of its time!

Eric-Clapton

9. Eric Clapton

Now, putting Eric Clapton so low on this list could be seen as a controversial decision. However, there is a reason to why he is Number 9 on this list instead of the Top 5. The reason for his placing is that he had all of the opportunities to evolve as a guitar player, yet never did. From listening to his albums from the 1970’s and 1980’s, he never made any significant changes to his style. Look at Jeff Beck (He is not on this list since Beck focused more on rock than blues). Beck constantly made improvements throughout his 50 year career, while Slowhand remained relatively the same. Nevertheless, Eric Clapton is still incredibly talented, and holds a legacy that most guitarists could only dream of.

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8. Gary Moore

When most people are asked about Gary Moore, they will have no idea who you’re talking about. Considered a “musicians musician”, Moore was the man that could play just about any style as shown during his time in Colosseum II, Thin Lizzy, and his solo career. Playing a variety between jazz-fusion and hark rock, Gary largely worked in the shadows with the occasional hit in the UK here and there. Yet, it wasn’t until the early nineties, when he was already in his late thirties, when he decided to return to his influences. Moore went back to his roots to play the blues for the rest of his career. And what an impact he left on the blues scene! Listening to modern blues titans, Joe Bonamassa and Kenny Wayne Sheppard, proves how much of an influence to the blues.

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7. Peter Green

During the Mid 1960’s, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers were going through a time of uncertainty. Eric Clapton had just parted ways with the band to form the British supergroup, Cream. Along with him leaving, that meant his fan base was gone too. What could John Mayall do in a time like this? Why only get the best replacement a man could ever ask for. Peter Green was the saving grace for the band with his guitar playing style which was very different than that of Clapton’s. Green focused more on the feeling of every note by focusing on string bending and vibrato. He used this type of playing to lay down the foundations for his own band, Fleetwood Mac. Even though the tenure in his own band was short lived, the impression he made on guitarists like Gary Moore earns Green the Number 7 spot on this list.

 

gibbons6. Billy Gibbons

This may come as a surprise to most people seeing Billy Gibbons so high on a list like this. Let me tell you that Gibbons is a much better guitar player than most realize. No, he’s not a crazy shredder that can play ten notes per second. No, his technique is not the most complicated in the world. Yet, there is one thing that I noticed during a live recording of a ZZ Top concert. During the entire set, Billy did not play a single bad note. Even for using a simple play style, playing an entire set perfectly is incredibly difficult to manage. That is the sign of truly knowing how to play the guitar. Even today, Billy Gibbons entertains millions of fans without skipping a beat in his playing. It’s no wonder why Jimi Hendrix said Gibbons was his favorite guitar player. He has truly earned the title of the second best Texas blues guitarist (The best will appear on this list later).

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5. Rory Gallagher

Look at that Strat! That worn down six-string was the trusty instrument of choice for the greatest blues player Ireland ever produced. During a time when guitar heroes were almost spontaneously appearing from California and England, Ireland was still lagging behind in the music industry. Most of their music acts consisted of showbands, which were basically jazz bands that would create covers of popular music. Rory Gallagher was one of the first people to break the showband chain by forming the blues-rock power trio, Taste. Not only did Rory introduce blues music to the Emerald Isle, he took it one step further when constructing Taste’s final record, On the Boards. Even with all of the guitarists making their presence known, Rory truly was one of the standout players of his time. Even when Taste disbanded, he dazzled fans all over Europe during his tours. His innovation also left his mark on the minds some of the most talented guitarists like Slash and Brian May. He will be missed.

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4. Jimi Hendrix

This was a very tough decision to put Jimi at Number 4 since he’s considered to be the greatest guitarist to ever live. He was truly an anomaly that I doubt anyone would be able to replicate again. What can I say about Hendrix that hasn’t already been said? The man was without a doubt the standout guitar player of the 1960’s, and inspired an entire generation after him. I could go on and on about his remarkable musicianship, his innovation, etc. Many of his fans theorize what would Jimi be like if he walked the Earth today. With all of the high production value and new technology the music industry, experts would probably say that his music is too much. There’s else to say other than that he was a true guitar hero. The only setback I actually have for Hendrix was that he died before he had the chance to evolve into something new and innovative once again. Just imagine Hendrix as a veteran guitar player with Rory Gallagher and Billy Gibbons as young bucks playing alongside each other. That could lead to even more exciting experimentation on their part. Make no mistake. Jimi Hendrix is absolutely incredible, but those higher on the list have arguably done more for the blues than Jimi.

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3. B.B. King

When you think about the blues, B.B. King has to the first person that comes to mind. With Lucille at his side, The King has entertained generations upon generations of blues fans. The reason as to why B.B. ranks so high on this list is rooted in how many guitarists he inspired over the years. His music has influenced every single person on this list, and probably every electric blues guitarist. While he never had the greatest technical skill like his contemporaries or successors, his sense for the blues was unquestionable. King was one of the first to make his guitar “sing” with his string bending and vibrato. This type of style made every note count when he was playing. There is truly no one that could create history like B.B. King did, and he will be truly missed.

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2. Buddy Guy

The very last blues legend of his era. Most of the other great guitarists that emerged around his time have sadly passed on… leaving just Buddy. Guy’s career is an interesting one… His career never truly sat in the limelight, while those he has influenced have soared to new heights in fame. The first album he ever played on didn’t even have his own name on it! (Hoodoo Man Blues is a great album nonetheless) Yet, by no means does that mean he doesn’t deserve the credit where credit is due. Without Buddy Guy, there would be no Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, or even Jimi Hendrix. His music was incredibly revolutionary, and he still brings that power in his concerts today. Buddy Guy truly deserves to go down in the history books as a blues legend.

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1. Stevie Ray Vaughan

When SRV lost his life in that helicopter crash in 1990, there was a void left in the world of blues that has still not been filled yet. Like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray was an anomaly in which no one had ever seen anything like him before. His revolutionary guitar playing caught everyone’s attention in the best way possible. Vaughan single handedly brought new excitement into the blues that was lost since the early 1970’s. Now, he has left behind a legacy unlike any other blues guitarist before him. It is without question that Stevie Ray Vaughan deserves the Number 1 spot on this list!