Hailing from Pittsburgh, Xander Demos is a high-energy rock and metal guitar player who not only fronts his own solo band, but also plays lead guitar for Pittsburgh's party rock outfit ‘Into The Arena’ as well as tribute act ‘Sabbath Judas Sabbath’.
On ‘Guitarcadia’ the focus is quite rightly on the guitar and there are some stunning melodies. With a style that at times is reminiscent of artists like Eric Johnson and Steve Vai with traces of Vinnie Moore and even John Sykes there’s no doubting the skill. Like it says on the tin this is 10 tracks of guitar heaven.
For a predominantly instrumental album to keep your attention is a difficult task but right from the lush ‘Right Angles’ it’s clear that this isn’t your run of the mill bored guitarist side project offloading riffs they didn’t know what to do with. Strangely too I found myself singing along to a couple of instrumental songs, making up my own words – the melodies are that strong!
When we do get vocals – like on ‘Under the Darkened Sky’ - a great hard rocker, it’s a nice break from the relentlessness but you know what, I’m glad when we dive right back into songs like ‘White Knuckle Driving’ and the title track ‘Guitarcadia’. There are some surprises too with Henley’s ‘Boys of Summer’ taken to new heights and De Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’ surprisingly fresh ad metallic!
My picks are the epic ‘Right Angles’, ’White Knuckle Driving’, the frenetic ‘Woodshed Sonata’ and I’ll throw in the ‘Boys of Summer’ too which has far more urgency than the original.
If that doesn’t convince you, Xander is also a great animal lover and is donating a portion of his album sales to the ASPCA.