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Steve Vai announces new album, unveils bonkers steampunk guitar

Steve Vai with Hydra guitar
(Image credit: Mascot Label Group)

Guitar wizz Steve Vai has announced a new studio album, Inviolate. The follow-up to 2016's Modern Primitive, it'll be released on CD on January 28, while the vinyl version will follow on March 18. Vai has also released the first single from Inviolate, Little Pretty. 

"It’s very 'Vai,' whatever that means," Vai says of the album. "Someone else might be better than me at explaining what that is. But it’s just very honest music. Because a lot of my records, they're long and there's a lot of concepts and playing around with stories. 

"This one has none of that. This is nine pretty dense all-instrumental compositions that I wanted to capture and record so I could get out there and play them live for people."

Vai has also detailed the 'Hydra', a custom-built guitar used on the album's opening track, Teeth Of The Hydra. Built in conjunction with Japanese manufacturers Hoshino, it features three necks but only two headstocks.

The Hydra features "seven- and 12-string guitars; a four-string bass; sympathetic harp strings; half-fretless necks; single-coil, humbucking, piezo and sustainer pickups; floating and hardtail tremolo bridges; phase splitters; and much, much more."

"It's an incredibly-built machine,” Vai says, perhaps unnecessarily. “I knew that I needed to create something with the Hydra that sounded like a real piece of music. It couldn’t be just a novelty."

Steve Vai - Inviolate tracklist

1. Teeth Of The Hydra
2. Zeus In Chains
3. Little Pretty
4. Candlepower
5. Apollo In Color
6. Avalancha
7. Greenish Blues
8. Knappsack
9. Sandman Cloud Mist 

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 36 years in music industry, online for 23. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.