Marty Friedman / Fighting the forces of blandness in Metal

Since moving to Japan in 2003, shred guitar legend Marty Friedman has made something of a new life and career for himself. The former Megadeth guitarist has become a celebrity in the land of the rising sun, regularly appearing on Japanese TV, in person and in the theme songs to countless ads and programs.

Marty Friedman – Tokyo Jukebox 3 (The Players Club)

Release Date: 16 April 2021

Words: Kahmel Farahani

His latest release ‘Tokyo Jukebox 3’ marks another instalment in his very successful series of albums transforming Japanese pop songs into lush, guitar heavy instrumentals. While most of the original artists (Sekai No Owari and Little Glee Monsters anyone?) will be unfamiliar to western audiences, that does not stop them being incredibly enjoyable in their own right.

Opening track ‘Makenaide’ is a cover of the hit from Japanese pop-rock group Zard and comes with a fantastic video, [above].

Friedman told MetalTalk: “I feel so incredibly fortunate and grateful for the love and support of wonderful people from so many countries and cultures around the world. With this video, I tried my best to share that unique feeling with you and what better way than to have those cool folks jam for us.

“A huge thank you to everyone who took the time and energy to learn this song and make this video so fun to look at.”

Cover of Tokyo Jukebox 3 from Marty Friedman

Inimitable solos

‘Echo’ starts off sounding like the theme song to a Japanese drama series, before leading into one of Friedman’s truly inimitable solos while the drums crash behind him. It has been roughly 30 years since ‘Rust In Peace’ changed the Heavy Metal landscape forever and, while the musical context of Friedman’s work may have changed, his skills with a guitar certainly have not.

‘U.S.A.’ sounds like Babymetal meets an arcade dance machine, and it is so brilliantly joyful and well executed I can not imagine anyone not grinning and dancing along. That is the beauty of this collection and Friedman’s recent work in general; you can tell that he is enjoying himself and believes in the material he is doing.

While it does not always meet the expectations of the old-school Thrash fans, there is no denying that it is brilliant work.

‘Senbonzakura’ is another killer track, with Friedman beefing up the main J-pop melody with a wall of iron-clad riffs and lethal solos.

‘Shukumei’ sounds like it has escaped from a Pokemon movie, and will either cause you to grin from ear to ear or grind your teeth and skip to the next track, if you have no sense of whimsy. For me, one of the best tracks on the new album.

Overall, ‘Tokyo Jukebox 3’ is a superb album for guitar nerds and Japanophiles alike.

Friedman told us: “I am so happy with the way this [album] turned out. And I am also grateful for how it has been received so far. The reaction has been fantastic. It was joyful and cathartic to record and I am delighted it is now giving people such a fun diversion.”

Marty Friedman has delivered, yet again, his own twist on Heavy Metal music and we should all be thankful to him for fighting the forces of blandness in Metal.

1. Makenaide
2. Senbonzakura
3. Gurenge
4. Kaze Ga Fuiteiru
5. Echo
6. The Perfect World (ft. Alfakyun)
7. U.S.A.
8. Shukumei
9. Ikuze Kaitou-Shoujo
10. Sazanka
11. Time Goes By
12. Japan Heritage Official Theme Song

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