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Kelly Simonz: The Rule of Right
2002, Faith Music, LMC2235 2

Kelly Simonz's 2002 release, The Rule Of Right, is another strong neoclassical - hard rock fusion effort from the Japanese virtuoso guitarist. Simonz has compiled thirteen quality tracks that feature his neoclassically-flavored fretwork and composition. The arrangements generally follow the format and style of the neoclassical pioneer, Yngwie Malmsteen who seems to have secured the role as Simonz's primary influence. But, despite the conspicuous Yngwie influence on him, Simonz is not simply a clone. Simonz composes impressive songs that go head to head with Yngwie's own works, challenging him rather than being strictly derivative. Simonz's guitar work is superb, consistently demonstrating virtuoso skill while imparting easily percievable musical vision, direction, and purpose. His neoclassical technique is phenomenal, especially in the areas of sweep picking, scaling towering runs, traversing mesmerizing pattern sequences, and general fluidity, continuity, and articulation.

The arrangements that Simonz has compiled are a combination of the conventional Yngwie vocal-oriented song format and full-out instrumental barrages. But, even the vocal tracks have solid, digestible musical themes, driving rhythms, satisfying changes, and enthralling lead work. Simonz's drive to excel and produce quality music is evident throughout this effort. There is little doubt that his assimilation of the Yngwie style has some critics pidgeonholing him as an Yngwie knock-off and he is answering back by producing music of a quality that rivals Yngwie's. Throughout this effort, Simonz demonstrates that he is able to invent and derive addictive themes, melodies, and ballades at an incredible rate and with alarming consistency.

On the scale of "into it", I give The Rule Of Right the thumbs up for Simonz's fantastic guitar playing and talented compositional skills. Fans of Yngwie will want to check this effort out for certain. The Rule Of Right is custom tailored for the Yngwie fan base and is good enough that except for the most devout, fanatical followers, Yngwie fans will not object to Simonz's emulation of his style once they hear how good this album is. Simonz is a class act with true talent. And, it seems like his albums are getting better with each successive effort... Great work! Kelly Simonz's Blindfaith gets the nod of approval with high expectations for their next release.

Kelly Simonz   Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Drums, Programming, Vocals
Keisuke Nishimoto   Bass, Backing Vocals
Tetsuya Hoshiyama   Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
1) Destiny
2) Till The End Of Time
3) Still
4) The Rule Of Right
5) Desperado
6) King Of The Castle
7) Time Of Revelation
8) Partita BWV826
9) Now Your Turn
10) Sprendid Grief
11) Dancing On The Edge
12) Blind Faith
13) Etude
~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~ October 2003

Kelly Simonz: Silent Scream
2002, Lion Music, LMC2207 2

Kelly Simonz blazes a trail of fiery neoclassical / hard rock fusion on his 2002 release from Lion Music, Silent Scream. Simonz style is similar to that of Yngwie Malmsteen with the combination of harmonic minor and diminished tonal foundations, stratocaster / overdrive / Marshall tones, and blazing quick scales, patterns, and sweep picking. Simonz also has a musical format that is similar to Yngwie's rock / neoclassical fusion style that interleaves neoclassical elements into a standard rock song format, complete with vocals. Personally, I prefer the straight neoclassical style with a purely instrumental format and without the repetitive rock-isms. But to be fair, Simonz does do a good job with both aspects of his music. Simonz can pull off the neoclassical sections with fantastic precision, clarity, and musical vision. It was a little disappointing in some places where he started to develop some intense neoclassical themes and then transitioned into the rock format rather than further developing the spine-tingling themes that he had embarked upon. Fortunately, Simonz talent with the neoclassical dimension rescues the rock dimension and the latter tracks on the CD redeem the album with a sharper focus on instrumental music rather than the rock format.

Fans of Yngwie may want to check out Kelly Simonz. He's good a good grasp on all the signature Yngwie stylisms, such as the heavy, crunching, driving power chord rhythms, melodic arpeggiated sweep picking, catchy pedal tones, towering scales, intervaling with thirds out of harmonic minor scales, enigmatic quadruplet patterns, searing melodic themes interwoven with inspiring, speedy runs, solid, cohesive thematic development, and heart-wrenching balades. Though Simonz is a bit of an Yngwie knock-off, he is able to put the elements together in a coherent manner that gives him some merit because of his command over these elements that challenges Yngwie's reign over this domain that he pioneered. And, I'm sure this album is giving Yngwie heartburn hearing his trademark licks played by yet another aspiring guitarist! But, if you are a fan of the Yngwie harmonic minor, diminished sound and ballade style of neoclassical, you may want to check Simonz out because he's got some decent material going on that you can file right along side the Yngwie section of your collection! Simonz is a guy who wasn't going to be satisfied with simply immitating some of Yngwie's trademark guitar work, but instead has embraced the entire philosophy and feel. This aspect of Simonz devotion to this style gives him an authenticity in his music that gives it some legitimacy that allows it to stand alone from its main influences rooted in the style of the great neoclassical pioneer, Yngwie Malmsteen. This is because it is not simply derivative because it embraces the entire philosphy rather than simply the constituent elements. The arrangements are well done and get better as the album progresses, so give it a listen with an open mind! Though the strong Yngwie influence is unmistakeable, Simonz has put together some good music that fans of the Yngwie-founded genre of neoclassical will undoubtedly enjoy.

Guitar, Keyboards, etc. Kelly Simonz
1) Silent Scream
2) Time
3) One and Only Love
4) Girl... I Give My Life for You
5) Angel Eyes
6) Fly Away
7) Paradise Lost
8) Forever
9) Lies
10) Tears in Your Eyes
11) Aftermath
12) Blue Monday
13) Without You

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~ Chris Ruel's Monthly Spotlight





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