Comments: Italian guitar virtuoso Francesco Fareri returns with a new instrumental effort on Finland's Lion Music. This time out the critiques should be stricter and Fareri should be forced to bring a more complete album with stronger emphasis on song creation, and less on showing off his rocket fast fingers.

The album starts with a rocket fast keyboard line from Maestro Vitalij Kuprij then the sick Italian Fareri hits the speedy guitar notes with his arthritis-forming technique. "Circle" sees more shred plus a small bit o' rock guitar tone, but not enough to distract the neo-classical progressive guitarheads from their quarry.

The advanced approach and much of the growth we are looking for comes on the shred fest "Lies." It has all the neo-classical elements but the song also has an underlying melody that is not compromised by the sniper level marksmanship. The song also features a nice few keyboard leads and solos. The keys are dynamic and prolific especially after the five minute mark.

The fourth cut "Sonic Garden" sees muted beautiful guitar almost muted "plucking" and bass guitar and is reflective if not downright melancholy. It's both a stark change and a pretty cool deep groove from the seven string bandit.

The next ditty "The Waves" is cool as well, with nice quaint key notes, rocket fast shred and a deep rock rhythm. The tempo changes and twists are really unique and solid. Smartly they keep coming back to the lovely piano styled key notes. The keyboards in "Destiny" are wonderfully gentle and Fareri laces the track with soulful quick lead pieces a few times for good measure.

The seventh song of a seven stringer is "Liquid World" and is the fastest of the whole record. Mach three bursts from Fareri marry with equally rapid keyboards of the brilliant Bob Katsionis to highlight the solid technique here on this cut. Later in the track the speed has a method as Fareri hits nicely constructed melodies. Then it's back to the speed for speed's sake scenario before the culmination of the track.

A monster deep bass guitar ride is the madness of the nearly three minute "Present Glow" from the obscenely talented American bassist Kyle Honea. And folks that's just the amplified electric shred part of the album, there still lies the acoustic trappings of Mr. Fareri to come.

Oh and when the beginning of the first acoustic track "Parallel Lives" starts is it clear how God Damned gifted this man is. Hyper Space speed creates layers of almost wind creating not music but an element of nature. The second cut of the second half is the 94-second "Wood of Silence." It has a monstrously large piano sound and shows how proficient Fareri is on that instrument as well.

More big and this time fun comes around the track on "Masquerade" as wonderfully balanced cut with Francesco's fingers flying around the piano as well as the acoustic guitar. This track is tremendously emotional and harkens back to a time of youthful innocence.

This decision to record acoustic projects Fareri into the upper echelon of axe slingers!

The next cut "Undefined" is precisely played and features almost a mystery novel theme to play. The feel here is basic and every single note that is struck is audible. "Seasons" is more keyboard brilliance with a nod to an atmospheric sound too. The last effort on this very special album "Secret World" is a 70-second uplifting number with piano and guitar ruling the roost.

Folks an instrumental shred guitarist showing a soft gentle and emotional side is a rarity in this world. Fareri does just that here and it is a real treat. The songs are more complete, the acoustic numbers are amazing and there is still enough showing off for any reasonable guitarheads. Pick up a copy today. It also includes enhanced features of the making of this record

HRH Rating: 8.4/10

"Secrets Within" is the second album on Lion Music from Francesco Fareri and follows on from his first release "Forbidden Dimension". The new album contains two contrasting sides of Francesco's musical vision and is quite different from his first album.

Of the album Francesco comments, " I believe this album to be the best material I've ever released and the one that best represents me. This album is really introspective and very important for me, it was inspired from the experience of the impossible things that have happened in the last few years and also from day to day experiences. This isn't a guitar album, as I wanted all the instruments to have the same importance in every song. I paid a lot of attention and care whilst recording all the instruments".

The album sees Francesco teaming up with a wealth of virtuoso musicians in Kyle Honea on bass and Lucrezio de Seta on drums. On these musicians contributions Francesco states," The experience and confidence of players like Kyle and Lucrezio improved then songs because they understood exactly what I wanted to record and they played with their style but focused on my main ideas. They are the best rhythm section I have ever heard!"

"Secrets Within" is made up of two movements sub titled," Into The Dark Line" which is the heavy part of the album and "Out Of The dark Line" which is more delicate and introspective.

The album clocks in at a mighty one hour and twelve minutes so there is plenty of music to sink ones teeth into.

"Into The Dark Line" is made up of nine sections and opens with the fast and pacey "Secrets Within". This is full on shred guitar played at blinding speed and accuracy. Francesco goes from one end of his fret board to the other at the speed of light and locks horns with some great keyboard phrases. There is a bewildering amount of harmony guitar on show here with textures that I have rarely encountered.

"Circle" is another fast song with some insane sweep picked lines, which defy belief. The nice thing about this track is that the keyboard features as a strong melody instrument which means when the guitars go off in to shred territory they just sound more devastating.

"Lies" has an angry sort of vibe about it and some incredible rhythm changes. The guitar soloing is jaw dropping and of the highest quality. Tapped and sweep picked passages leave the listener in shock. The last time I felt this way was when I first heard Rusty Cooley and guitarists all know what a shred god he is. Amongst all the fireworks there is a lot of melody to this track.

"Sonic Garden" is a tapped piece using a technique similar to what Joe Satriani employs on his track "Midnight". It gives the listener a short breather before the chaos that is "Waves" kicks in." Waves" uses light and dark and tension and release to great effect. When the shredding starts it is fast, furious and insane. Every technique that a shredder can use is shown to great effect on this track.

"Destiny" is all about melody and even has a mid tempo feel to it. The drama is provided by some great keyboard work and overall it's the keyboard, which drives this track rather than guitars showing that Francesco has his eye on composition as well as phenomenal guitar playing. The track however does explode with a shred solo midway through and goes for it all the way to the end.

"Liquid World" is frantic and furious. Its heads down and shred form start to finish. Bob Katsionis gives us a keyboard solo and Kyle Honea sounds almost Billy Sheehan like with some great tapped and hammered runs on the bass.

"Present Glow" is an awesome display of tapped and hammered technique and shows how far musicians have taken this style.

"Scenes" is a song, which feels very progressive and melodic all at the same time. It almost feels like it is tying all the tracks that have come before together. Compositionally it is sophisticated and the time changes are mesmerising.

"Parallel Lives" is the opening track from the second movement of the album "Out Of The Dark Line". This second half of the album is completely different in feel as to what has come before as it focuses entirely on keyboard and acoustic playing." Parallel Lives" is delicate and introspective and is a piece of music which one feels has truly been composed in the real sense of the word." Wood Of Silence" and "Masquerade" at times reminded me of the keyboard playing of Michael Nyman in the way there are repeated phrases used to great effect. "Undefined", "Seasons" and "Secret World" bring the album to a peaceful close.

This album sonically sounds impressive as each instrument is given plenty of room to cut through he mix, nothing sounds buried. Compositionally it is very sophisticated and needs a few listens to start really getting under the skin. I've often found that is a good sign as some of my favourite albums are those that didn't quite "make sense" until I had let them sink in to my consciousness. For guitar players who like to hear guitar played to the extreme this album is a must. Fransesco's playing puts him well and truly in the elite of shred experts and many students of the genre will listen to his playing and tremble in fear. He really is that good.

Overall this album did take a few spins to really reward and perseverance will pay off anyone who gives this album their time.

Rating - 8/10