John McRIS – Ark

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Let me clarify something from the beginning. I hate orchestral solo albums by guitarists (mostly), because they become a blabbering show of technique and are of course aimed at a very specific audience. “Rifftard” (2019) by Ravaya of the mighty Need was the only one that was different from the rest. Unfortunately, it came out as an EP but it is the only one in this category that is in my record collection. “Ark” is going to follow soon.

John Makris became known to the fans of hard music in Greece in 2002. It was then, under the nickname Satrigiannis, when he joined Anorimoi, the absolute masters of comedy metal, while he has also participated in Fragile Vastness, Seduce The Heaven and 4Bitten. He is also a producer at Soundflakes Recording Studios and Hell’s Kitchen Recording Studio, having contributed to many releases of the local scene and of course the recording, mixing and mastering of this one with excellent outcome.

So, in “Ark” he tries something of his own and the reason I enjoyed it so much is because he doesn’t focus on unnecessary demonstrations of how well he can “destroy” his guitar. Instead, he writes music and not a confusing mess from whatever came to his mind, through eight tracks that last a bit longer than half an hour.

The style is located between classic heavy metal and hard rock, while having also some AOR influences. Sometimes heavier, sometimes more atmospheric, the material shows clearly how much work he put on it, since you will find new elements in each track. The absolute star is the many amazing melodies that come out from John’s guitar and easily stay in your mind after listening to them just once.

But he is not alone in this effort, as the musicians who contributed do a great job. Bob Minetos on bass, Angelo Giampouras (Anorimoi, 4Bitten) on drums, his wife Niki Rosa Frei in a few choral parts, while the keys are shared between John and Manos Gavalas, Vangelis Tsimpinos and Bob Katsionis. All of them should be congratulated for the final outcome.

In conclusion, “Ark” is not an album aimed only at guitarists. It does not lack technique but does not sacrifice the musicianship and the songwriting for the sake of showing John’s skills. The tracks are full of remarkable guitar work and specifically (as I said above) melodies that I personally cannot get enough of listening to. Fortunately, it is not the typical guitar album. It is something much more. Check it out.