Tony Hernando is one of many very talented shredders out there, and definitely one of the top dogs in Spain. After having put out four solo albums (plus a live DVD), playing with Spanish metal band Saratoga and touring with legends like Andy Timmons and Richie Kotzen, Hernando must be considered one of the heavyweights in the league of instrumental guitarists. His latest effort Actual Events certainly caters to fans of heavy guitar extravaganza.
The track Land with no Sun is a fine example of what this album is about: Ultra heavy riffing with plenty of ‘crunch’, swift and clear runs bordering on the neoclassical alternating with passages of more restrained – but no less intense – soloing, and all backed by some very tight drumming courtesy of Mike Terrana. The same formula goes for tracks like Totem, Stones of Silence, Signals of Aggression etc. His sound reminds me of colleagues like Jeffrey Ryan Smoots and Andy James who also implement heavily distorted, crunchy riffs, and there are passages that make me think of Joe Satriani’s Engines of Creation with its aggressive, almost electronic sound.
All in all I think Actual Events is a fine album that will appeal to fans of the genre, although the tracks do have a tendency to sound a bit alike when you listen through the entire album. There’s a welcome departure from the heaviness on the rather bland acoustic track Tomorrow’s Rain (which seems to be a nod to Satriani’s Tears in the Rain), and the closing track The Watcher relies more on atmosphere and some interesting, syncopated drumming than the wall-of-sound quality of the rest of the album.
Also, I must add that I am not a big fan of Mike Terrana’s drumming – no matter how tight and competent – which is very stiff and mechanical and sometimes sounds more like a drum program than an actual human being.