There is almost no music instrument more popular than the air guitar. A musical instrument consisting entirely of air molecules which, for the duration of a guitar solo or a killer riff, can be played by anyone without any training or practical experience. There is a mysticism surrounding the guitar and those who play it that is instantly appealing. There wasn't much that triggered my imagination more when I was young (with dinosaurs as a possible exception) than the electric guitar. An instrument like a magic stick with the guitar virtuoso as magician, able to provide the illusion that he could achieve the impossible. My fascination with the divine possibilities of the guitar has never completely faded since. Far into my adult life I have had moments when, against all reason, I wanted to be Eddie van Halen. Guitars can make you dream and with guitars you can make dreams come true.
Sam Russell's album debut is rooted in traditional blues-based hard rock, complemented by neo-classical and symphonic elements (think Ingwie Malmsteen but also of Sammy Hagar and a band like Fates Warning).
With a recording of Bach's first and second cello suites for electric guitar already under his belt, a choice of topics that go from (lost) love to Dante’s La Divina Comedia, and music that makes excursions from lyrical voices to violent grunts, Russell shows himself a versatile artist. Illustrative of the variety of musical tastes that are on display here, are the songs Leigh Wood and Fire, Desire. The first one a ballad sung by Doro Pesch - a dream within a dream coming true for Russell - and the second one a skull crusher of a song (with Ryan Mueller on grunt) that puts the listener in a Death Metal state of mind. Daniel Leigh is the third singer on the record, a voice with a pleasant sense for melody, who can be heard (with the exception of the instrumentals Longing, that comes with a cello, and Riffstrumental) on the rest of the songs.
Sam Russel combines his taste for story telling in catchy songs in which the guitar soli are like the bubbles in the champagne. Despite the use of many resources (Waves of Tomorrow has for instance seven guitar tracks), and a predilection for grand gestures, the production doesn't lean too much towards bombast. The album has a clear, transparent sound in which details get the attention they deserve.
A man (or a woman) with an electric guitar is like a kid with a big toy and with that big toy Sam Russel fulfills a dream. With Impetuous Desire, Sam Russell made a dream of a record that, with the excitement that comes from witnessing dreams come alive, is both a showcase of his current skills and a promise for the (nearby) future.