The Wizard
Total Guitar|November 2020
AS LEADER OF PROGRESSIVE METAL TITANS DREAM THEATER, JOHN PETRUCCI IS A MASTER TECHNICIAN AND SORCERER OF SHRED. BUT ON HIS LONG-AWAITED SECOND SOLO ALBUM, TERMINAL VELOCITY, HE’S APPLYING HIS VIRTUOSO SKILLS TO THE BLUES, LATIN FUSION AND POP-PUNK – AND PULLING TRICKS FROM ONE OF HIS OLD TUTORIAL VIDEOS...
Amit Sharma

In 1995, three albums into Dream Theater’s career, John Petrucci released his Rock Discipline instructional video through REH. It would quickly become one of the most insightful tutorials of its kind – a shredder’s bible highly lauded to this day for its close-up examination of alternate picking, inside picking, arpeggios, and beyond. Fast forward a quarter of a century and some of its performance excerpts have made an unlikely comeback on the track Gemini from the guitarist’s second solo album, Terminal Velocity...

“I haven’t seen the DVD in a long time,” he says, talking to TG from his band’s headquarters in Long Island, New York. “Someone else actually reminded me it was on there! I always liked that piece, I don’t know why. It was a guitar demo thing I wrote to do clinics and masterclasses. Something about it felt really cool and I always wanted to record it for real someday. So when I had to relearn it for this album, I had no reference! I had to go on YouTube and find it – all I got was some crappy version recorded in the audience and all distorted. I was like, ‘Alright, I can just about learn it from that and try to remember what the hell I was thinking!’ That was a fun challenge.”

The new music, which arrives 15 years on from his solo debut, also sees him reunited with ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, who parted ways with the group in 2010. Though the guitar tracks were actually recorded first, Portnoy’s input was “very lively, energetic and off-the-cuff”, benefitting from an old familiarity that stretches back to their late teens (“As soon as we pressed record, he knew exactly how to respond”). Naturally, as with all things John Petrucci, this latest collection of songs is thrillingly complex, though also noticeably more upbeat and less dark than his main band’s output over the last few decades. There’s even a Happy Song that sounds more like the radio-friendly rock associated with Green Day than the down-tuned metal mastery Petrucci has long typified...

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