George Lynch - Seamless
While George Lynch had released a number of solo albums in the past that had a significant number of instrumental tracks, it took until 2021 for him to release an album that was fully instrumental.
- Quiver - A quick drum intro breaks into a thick, heavy riff. A lighter, bluesy passage leads into a more easygoing Lynch groove with nice lead work. A more sparse but urgent lead works its way into a thick groove with great soloing. Another round of bluesy breakdown through thick groove and soloing cuts into a brighter lead section. This breaks into a bass-heavy solo section before returning to the sparse lead and thick groove sections again, then an extended thick guitar outro. Great crunch and groove, impressive stylistic range and dynamics, excellent song construction. 9/10.
- Cola - A fat, funky groove with wah-laden lead work flows into a section that feels like a mild version of the intro to GnR’s “Welcome To The Jungle”, accompanied by nice bluesy leads. These sections repeat with different lead work, then break into an atmospheric section with ringing guitar that leads into an extended multi-part solo on top of the funky groove, including some great over-the-top wah. The GnR section returns to serve as the outro. Another excellent and varied track, 9/10.
- TJ69 - A heavy guitar breakdown leads into another thick, funky riff. This flows into a hypnotic groove with a lot of busy tapping work on top, then cuts into a brighter classic Lynch riff with nice soloing. These three sections repeat with new lead work, then the hypnotic groove returns with a great solo before tamping down to a subdued version of itself. This builds up through a riff with some surprising melodic choices, then becomes subdued again on a different riff before returning to the brighter riff with sweet soloing and the initial funky riff with a callback to the intro to close things down. Great stuff, but not quite on the level of the first two tracks. 8/10.
- Death By A Thousand Licks - A dissonant opening cuts into a bass-driven groove with nonstop guitar noodling on top. Lynch plays really “outside” on a lot of this lead work. This breaks into some punchy riffage with lead fills. The song runs through these two sections a couple more times with different leads before ending on a variant reprise of the intro. This song is pretty straightforward and masturbatory, but it’s still quite good. 7/10.
- iThink - A distant, odd-rhythm riff is kicked into high gear as the bass and drums join in. Nice bluesy lead work here, then the song shifts into a more driving groove that ends with a breakdown reminiscent of Live’s “Lighthouse”. This launches into a driving, queasy groove with atmospheric lead work. A variation of the intro riffage returns with some aggressive soloing, circling back through the other sections of the song with new leads. This breaks into an atmospheric section with staccato feedback noises and a mechanical, bending lead that opens up into a lush, sparse interlude with guitar parts that sound like effervescent computer noises. Another breakdown, and then the song rolls through its first three sections again with more great soloing before ending on a reprise of the opening riff with some new guitar accents. Wow, what a journey — this song goes to some really unexpected places and is captivating from start to finish. 10/10.
- Sharks With Laser Beams - A quick fade-in breaks into a classic bright, driving Lynch riff. This switches to some ascending rhythm work while Lynch solos on top, later evolving into soaring leads on top of the earlier bright riff, with Lynch channeling Joe Satriani. These two sections repeat with new leads, then break into a slightly more subdued Lynch Mob style groove with intricate soloing. This gives way to an awesome atmospheric section with gentler but still intricate lead work that builds back up into the bright and ascending riff sections again. A variation of the bright riff serves as an outro. Another stellar track, 10/10.
- Octavia - An acoustic intro that echoes a melodic theme from the previous track breaks into a slower-paced heavy groove. This leads into a funkier rhythm with great lead work, then a more melancholy descending bit before adding a little brightness back in. This flows back through the funkier and more melancholy parts with more sweet leads, then breaks into a softer acoustic interlude with awesome soaring electric lead work. Great leads continue as the song runs through variations of the heavy and funky sections again before an abrupt ending. Great stuff, 8/10.
- Supersonic Hypnotic Groove Thing - Another classic Lynch Mob style riff gives way to a bass-driven groove with some crazy lead work. Ringing guitar builds back into an uptempo groove with sweet leads, and Lynch begins channeling Satriani again as the song rolls back through these sections with new lead work. A very Satrianiesque uptempo bridge suddenly cuts into a completely unexpected and awesome neoclassical break, then runs back through the three main sections from the beginning of the song with even fancier lead work. A return to the opening riff with some extended soloing slowly fades out to finish the song. Excellent song, and that neoclassical bit hits my musical G-spot every time! 9/10.
- Falling Apart - A heavy, bright, uptempo groove soon gives way to an acoustic section with some sweet electric wah lead work. This cuts into a heavier rhythm reminiscent of Dokken’s “Into The Fire” with some nice soloing, then switches into a brighter section that evokes Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, of all things. Another run through these sections with new lead work, then we get a heavy but uplifting multi-part bridge with great soloing. This drops into a gentler reprise of the “Into The Fire” part, which soon picks up in heaviness and returns to the “Wicked Game” part, dropping into a gentler version for a very pretty extended outro. A little bit of recycling here, but with a really interesting combination of influences and excellent execution. 9/10.
- Blue Light Effect - A muted guitar intro breaks into a slightly funky ascending riff and is soon joined by some sizzling leads. This cuts into an upbeat groove with bluesy melodic leads and some mild lyric-free backing vocals. Another couple of runs through the funky and upbeat sections with more blistering soloing than before, and a stuttering, decaying note brings it to an end. Great track, 8/10.
- House Of Eternal Return - A smooth yet funky groove underpins some sweet bluesy soloing. Some ringing notes give way to a heavy groove with soaring leads, then a distorted breakdown. Another run through the smooth and heavy sections, then a quick transition flows into an extended atmospheric interlude with ringing guitar and bluesy fills. This eventually builds back through a variant ringing passage into the heavy groove again, with sweet soloing carrying us along to a final fade-out. Another great track that elevates itself just enough with superb playing and dynamics to round it up to a 9/10.
- The Weight - A slower, super-bluesy riff provides a bed for some tasty blues leads. This eventually blossoms into a brighter melodic lead for a bit before returning to the original groove. Another run through these sections, then we get an alternately dark and bright midtempo bridge with some great soloing. This circles back to the intro and first two sections, then back to the intro again with some more wah-laden leads before a final breakdown and long note to end the song. Another great tune, 8/10.
Sometimes an established artist surprises you, suddenly pulling together all the elements you love about their body of work and totally surpassing your expectations. For me, this was the case with Seamless
George Lynch usually works in a collaborative environment where he leaves musical space in his songs to be filled with vocals, and where he writes in a particular style to suit the branding of the band he’s working with at the time. But for this album all of those compositional and stylistic barriers were moot, and Lynch was able to dig deep into his bag of tricks and surprise us.
Without a vocalist, Lynch felt compelled to stuff every song with layers of interesting guitar work. Without a specific band identity, he was free to incorporate sounds from metal, hard rock, blues, funk, alternative rock, and even hints of industrial and neoclassical metal into the music, often in the same song. He was also free to get really dynamic with the songwriting, having some very gentle and unexpected atmospheric breaks peppered throughout the work. It’s this broad range of influences and musical freedom, combined with excellent musicianship, that really elevates the material.
The only real negative here is the production, which has a “dirty” feel where the rhythm guitars can sound scratchy, noisy, or clipped at times. While I would have preferred a cleaner sound, it wasn’t a big deal to adjust to the feel of the record, and the rawness of it does give some extra punch to the fatter grooves.
Those of you familiar with my reviews know that I’m a tough grader compared to a lot of people, so an 8.8 rating is a big deal
. For the sake of comparison, I consider Powerslave
to be Iron Maiden’s second best album, and I also rated it an 8.8. (EDIT: OK, after redoing that one as a weighted average it wound up at 9.0, but my general point still holds!)
So yes, I’m saying that Seamless
is an all-time classic, and it’s my personal favorite album of 2021. A must-listen for fans of guitar instrumentals, and for anyone who enjoys Lynch’s broader range of work outside of Dokken.
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