Instrumental music has a lot of power that music with lyrics doesn't. Melodies and tones are not bound by words, and are instead free to the imagination. Words are not there to define a setting or mood; an instrumental is tabula rasa for the listener. Joe Satriani embarks on a journey in What Happens Next, building beautiful scenes and emotion through his incredible guitar playing.
There's several sides to What Happens Next, as it transverses through a variety of emotions. It opens grandly with the anthemic sound of a snare and thick riff on 'Energy,' rolling quickly into a southern-rock influenced drive, eventually coming to an epic, almost progressive breakdown with a screeching and triumphant guitar roaring. 'Catbot' is more progressive and driven, while 'Thunder High On The Mountain' is just as huge as you'd expect, with thrilling riffs and brooding moments to compliment the intense title.
It's from there the album becomes a bit ore diverse. 'Cherry Blossoms' has an interesting progression to it, starting unassumingly but then becoming almost angry as it continues. Title track 'What Happens Next' has some poppy melodies to it, but there's little intricacies in the lead that add so much character to it. There's something in the hook where the notes are just so slightly offbeat that it adds an element of uncertainty to the song, making it an anthemic piece about overcoming your fears and facing the unknown. There's plenty of these emotionally intense and progressive moments on the record, but Satriani finds time to have some fun too, namely on the jungly beats of 'Righteous' and the wildness of 'Headrush' and 'Looper.'
Instrumental music is powerful if done right, and What Happens Next is a fantastic example of it being done correctly. Joe Satriani embarks on a journey in What Happens Next, creating beautiful moments of emotion and grandiose through his expressive guitar playing. The album really shows what is capable of music without lyrics, and that perhaps it doesn't deserve to be ignored in the grand scheme of the music world.
Favorite Tracks: Thunder High On The Mountain, What Happens Next, Energy
Least Favorite Track: Looper
Rating: 77 / 100
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