NEAL SCHON of AOR super band JOURNEY is nothing but a legend of almost mythical proportions. Very few guitar players gain so much respect as Schon and on this double-CD release (!) he surely bring value for the dough. “Vortex” is a rock/fusion adventure, not surprisingly (since the solo work of Mr Schon has never leaned much towards AOR) and I am sure it is a wet dream to hobby string benders out there.
The guys helping Neal are truly great musicians as well, or how about JAN HAMMER (keyboards), ex-JOURNEY drummer STEVE SMITH and the fabulous keyboard player IGOR LEN.
The style ranges from rather heavy guitar fusion to soft pieces with a lot of feeling. In my opinion, Neal Schon has a tendency of playing too much and too fast. Not that he can’t master it, ‘cuz he is an amazing player. However, some listeners in the other end may find difficulties in grasping the greatness. Quite often it gets a bit tedious as well, like the heavily repeated riff in “Schon & Hammer now”. When Schon remembers to keep it a little more melodic, like in “Tortured souls” or the nice and slightly folk tinged “Triumph of love” he can melt the most icy heart. Still (and ironically), the best and most moodful moment of the album is the piano piece “Eternal love” played & written by IGOR LEN, with no other instruments involved!
In the biography it is mentioned that the lengthy songs allow the guys to bring out more of their playing (or something like that). Well, in that case it would have needed more variation. There is plenty of equilibrism on this “Vortex” album, no doubt. Still it could have been presented in a more listener friendly way.