GREAT KAT - Wagner's War

Great Kat - Wagner's War

7 songs
11:10 minutes
***** *****


The Great Kat was a short-lived phenomenon in the late 80s, when her albums Worship Me Or Die and Beethoven On Speed initiated a counter-revolution all by herself, impossibly fast music played by a delicate woman, not much taller than five feet, but containing more energy than whole legions of long-haired male metal bands. The Great Kat was so far ahead of her time that her former label didn't do more music with her (instead pushing years later copycats like Slipknot and having the guts to call this concoction of splatter and hardrock nu-metal).

Back in the present: The Great Kat is still alive, a positive surprise I had when I found myself in her mailing list. These days, she is releasing short CD-EPs with songs rarely longer than 2 minutes, and Wagner's War is already her third release published by TPR, her sister's public relations company. And one thing is for sure: the Great Kat still knows how to sell herself. Where in her early days, we had to do with satanic clichés, the 9/11 events have made her a fierce warrior queen against terrorism. Dressed in camouflage clothes and looking scarier than a whole squadron of navy seals, the Great Kat starts her album with Wagner's The Ride Of The Valkyries, a fitting opening for such a violent album. She still knows how to blend perfectly hyperspeed metal with classical music, adding her virtuosity with the fastest guitar solos you might ever hear. And by the way, the Great Kat has been voted among the ten fastest guitar shredders by Guitar One Magazine.

Next up are four original compositions, displaying the typical Great Kat sound: speed metal so fast that even early Napalm Death seem lame in comparison, with wailing banshee vocals that scare the hell out of me, and whenever you think that this is all getting out of control, you are rewarded with one of the mistress's staccato solos that are so out of this world.

The two last tracks are again classical pieces, the first one being Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody #2, with impossible fast guitars and without a doubt the highlight of the album. On the last track, Sarasate's Zapateado, the Great Kat gets out her violin and proves that she is a Juilliard graduate for a good reason. The classical pieces are backed by a midi symphonic orchestra, something I normally wouldn't approve of, but as the emphasis is on guitar and violin, you don't even really notice.

Since the late 80s, instrumental (or nearly instrumental) guitar albums have been quite popular mostly with musicians, but rather inaccessible to casual listener. The Great Kat outperforms not most, but all of the competition, by not only being faster, but also much fiercer than anyone I can think of. It would be unfair to label her as a novelty act. As much as I enjoy the combination of extreme metal (which may seem parodist at times), BDSM imagery and an ego bigger than Jesus, I also see that there is incredible virtuosity in a musician that makes it easier to write whole pages about 10 minutes of sheer originality than to even wonder what to write about hour long albums of boring mediocrity. The Great Kat may only release 10 minutes of music every other year, but these short moments are well worth the wait. Anything less than 10 points would be a disgrace.

Back to Reviews