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Former Cacophony/Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman returns with his first solo album of original material in four years, “Inferno,” after releasing a series of Japan-only cover albums in which he deconstructed and amped-up J-pop tunes.

And, boy, does he deliver. The album features some of the heaviest, most progressive music of his career. The mostly instrumental tracks on “Inferno” all have a ferocity to them, as if Friedman is constantly feeling the need to prove himself. In fact, “true metal” fans who decry his foray into the J-pop and idol scene in recent years will certainly shut up after hearing the opening seconds of the pulverizing title-track.

While the album has some nods to the good old days (including a collaboration with former Cacophony partner Jason Becker), “Inferno” is an album very much in tune with the current heavy scene; Friedman’s guitar growls with a modern edge and the drums blaze through relentlessly. Guest vocals by Danko Jones, Revocation’s David Davidson and Children Of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho spice things up.

The standout instrumental is the two-minute rocker “Hyper Doom,” which is probably the best example of the album combining modern metal and Friedman’s amazing dexterity and enigmatic playing style.

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