crazy climber dude
CCD, you are my man! I love Ascend, especially the opener "Unlocked", but I'm figuring Kuprij is a lot more "hidden/obscure" than Greg Howe. Also, although I feel Howe handled the neo-classical stuff so much better than anyone could've ever expected, Bellas brings that Yngwie style in his playing AND tone (maple neck strat FTW)!) that fits the music so perfectly. The song "Destination" is absurdly good.
VK3 and Forward And Beyond were both great, especially the latter, which had guest solos from a bunch of different guitarists (incl. Mike Romeo), but my favorite will always be Extreme Measures, by a hair.
P.S. Read an interview with Romeo once where he said something like "I did a song with this guy Vitalij Kuprij, a keyboard player......fucking awesome!). That's all you need to know about VK.
Yeah, Howe is better suited for the fusion stuff.....and what a collection he has in that genre! I think Hyperacuity is my favorite, but Extraction with Chambers and Wooten is phenomenal.....about as good as it gets.
I love Bellas. Vinman got me into him with Turn of the Millennium. I also have Mind Over Matter.....but agree Extreme Measures is a serious shredfest because of the duels going on. A lot of guys on this forum don't care for him though.....calling him "sloppy" (ask Bear).
Kuprij is unbelievably talented.....in some ways more than Rudess. Do you have any Ring of Fire stuff? Not real crazy about Mark Boals, but the music has some major chops! The DVD they made shows Kuprij doing this incredible solo where he plays from underneath the piano backwards. Crazy! Also, check out You Tube for a song he does with John Macaluso called "Puffy from Booze". Holy crap!
Bellas? Sloppy? Wow, I never got that impression listening to him. I remember the first time I heard him, probably late 90's. I was listening to this Winamp station (anyone remember that?) at work which was randomly playing artists in the genre based off of Yngwie's type stuff. The song was the previously mentioned "Destination" off of Extreme Measures
, and I was floored. Bought the CD instantly, not knowing who VK or Bellas even were. My only issue with Bellas is the lack of variety in his soloing (like Yngwie) in his solo material. Those speedy runs sound too similar to each other (and YJM, obv). However, when he had to play some bluesy stuff on that Mogg/Way (of UFO) album, he sounded great!
As for Ring Of Fire, I have all of 'em, just like any other Shrapnel-type stuff. Like you said, awesome chops, but Boals can only be taken in small doses. Gonna have to check that Macaluso vid, though.!
And as for my man Greg Howe, it's so tough to pick a favorite album. Gun to my head......nah, I can't do it. LOL. OK, I'll go with Extraction
. Wicked, and I mean WICKED playing and feel. I also love Hyperacuity
, and as for accessibility, Introspection
and his latest, Sound Proof
, are where it's at.
One other Shrapnel album that you probably have, but those who don't need to get: Michael Lee Firkins self-titled debut. The only album he ever made with a little edge to the music, and his style is so unique.