Steve Vai's Inviolate proves he's still in a class of his own

Guitar wizard Steve Vai returns with more magic spells, on the eye-popping Inviolate

Steve Vai - Inviolate cover art
(Image: © Favoured Nations/Mascot Label Group)

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While often seen as one of the elite group of ‘shredders’, Steve Vai has always been on its periphery, as a musician who is much more versatile than that.

He's a player who values melody, harmony, form, tone and texture far more than explosive or lightening-fast fretboard workouts, which of course he’s masterly capable of. The last two both feature on Inviolate, of course, but they're wrapped up with all those other attributes.

Regardless of the virtuosity on show, much of Inviolate is song-based, with changes of key, tempo, intensity and feel the key elements complementing the eye-popping musicianship. 

Dropping the pace, Greenish Blues is 21st-century blues that best shows the many sides of Vai’s playing, putting him a class of his own.

Paul Henderson

Classic Rock’s production editor for the past 22 years, ‘resting’ bass player Paul has been writing for magazines and newspapers, mainly about music, since the mid-80s, contributing to titles including Q, The Times, Music Week, Prog, Billboard, Metal Hammer, Kerrang! and International Musician. He has also written questions for several BBC TV quiz shows. Of the many people he’s interviewed, his favourite interviewee is former Led Zep manager Peter Grant. If you ever want to talk the night away about Ginger Baker, in particular the sound of his drums (“That fourteen-inch Leedy snare, man!”, etc, etc), he’s your man.