THE GREAT KAT

"William Tell Overture" Video (2014)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

If you saw the 2013 movie "The Lone Ranger," then you already know how powerful a piece the William Tell Overture can be. The movie was entertaining, if far from great, but the final, wildly overblown action sequence was made twice as exciting (at least!) by the dynamic and adrenaline-pumping classical piece by Gioachino Rossini.

Then along comes The Great Kat, one of the fastest guitarists (if not the fastest) in the world, with her blistering version of the William Tell Overture in this just under two minute video. It's well worth the download just to watch her play, her fingers flying across the frets in a blur, every note clear and sharp. What's interesting about her version of this particular piece is that the William Tell Overture is fast-paced to begin with, so her version, as fiery fast as it is, is relatively close to the original (compared to, say, Kat's version of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony).

As for the visual aspect, The Great Kat's William Tell Overture video is basically a performance piece, with The Great Kat playing solo and with back-up guitarists, all edited for maximum flash and speed. It's much more fun to watch than, say, her earlier "Castration" video whose focus on blood and gore was grim, unsettling and, worse, boring.

The Great Kat is an artist who continues to impress while still apparently having loads of fun. What else can you ask for?

 For more information, check out http://www.greatkat.com or http://www.beethovensguitarshred.com or download the video on iTunes.

"Beethoven's Guitar Shred" DVD (TPR Music; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's perhaps too easy to dismiss The Great Kat as just another rock'n'roll circus performer, with her leather and stud dominatrix outfit, her warpaint and the blood she's usually got painted all over her. At least until you hear and/or see her play. Then, all bets are off as that smirk on your face gives way to stunned amazement which folds into (sometimes grudging) respect. This woman can shred with the best of them and, in fact (as has been previously reported on these pages) has been called one of the "Top 10 Fastest Shredders of All Time" by Guitar One magazine and one of the "50 fastest guitarists of all time" by Guitar World magazine. Not that you need those magazine's  declarations once you see her play.

But what makes The Great Kat's fretwork so impressive isn't just her incredible speed but it's her clarity. She's playing classical music tunes on an electric guitar (or sometimes violin) at the range of somewhere around 300 beats per minute and you can hear every note. You'd never expect anyone who plays as fast as The Great Kat does to play so clean but, man, she nails it!

Her songwriting skills may not be the greatest (songs like "Islamosfascists" can't help but make you laugh) but her skills as a musician cannot be denied. And, on this DVD, her skills as a showman can't be denied, either. "Beethoven's Guitar Shred" is entertaining from beginning to end; from the jaw-dropping "The Flight of the Bumble-Bee to the hysterically cheesy animated "Shred Kartoon."

If there's any complaint about this DVD, it's that -- like most of the Great Kat's work -- it's far too short. All told, there's maybe twenty minutes of entertainment here and, especially with her fiery speed, it all goes too fast. Regardless, you can't deny this guitarist's talent and "Beethoven's Guitar Shred" displays it perhaps better than anything she's done before.

The Great Kat performs all shred guitars, shred violins, demonic vocals and genius virtuosity.

For more information, check out http://www.greatkat.com or http://www.beethovensguitarshred.com.

"Zapateado" Video (TPR Music)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "Zapateado" is "1. The rhythmic stamping and tapping of the heels characteristic of Spanish flamenco dances" or "2. A Spanish flamenco dance in which the performer stamps and taps rhythmically with the heels."

Attempting to dance to The Great Kat's "Zapateado" video, however, is likely to cause severe injuries to both legs.

Taken from her "Wagner's War" CD, "Zapateado" is a two-minute video (long by Great Kat standards) based on Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate's violin work. It's a stunning combination of the Great Kat's unmatched guitar speed (Guitar One Magazine named her one of the top 10 fastest shredders of all time) and riveting heavy metal violin work. Unlike some of her other work, however, "Zapateado" actually sounds more like a tune rather than someone simply trying to play as fast as they can. And, in the Great Kat's case, that's faster than hell.

Of course, although the video's heart is in the right place, it's more than a little cheesy. But that's half the fun. As stunning as the Great Kat's musicianship is (and it's breathlessly stunning), her outrageous and more than a little frightening character add a big steaming chunk of rock'n'roll attitude to the video. It's an amazing thing, really, to be impressed by her fretwork, a little scared at her appearance and behavior, and still be able to laugh at the over-the-top flamboyancy of it all.

That's what the Great Kat does best and nobody does it better.

For more information, check out http://www.greatkat.com

"War" Video (TPR Music)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Never one known for subtleties, the Great Kat has outdone herself with her latest release, the 90-second "War" video.

Never has so much been crammed into so little space in so little time. In a mere minute-and-a-half, the Great Kat screams like a banshee going to war, rips through guitar riffs and leads that would take the fingers off a lesser axe-wielder, leads a platoon of angry soldiers into war and does all of this while flashing images of concentration camp atrocities and the horror of the World Trade Center attacks.

The "War" video fits the Great Kat's style and attitude better than her previous video, "Castration." The unleashed, enraged fury of her sound seems appropriate as the atrocities on screen flash by. If you need to get your blood boiling again, The Great Kat's "War" video will help you do it. 

There's no one out there quite like "The Great Kat" and ... if there were ... she'd probably kick their ass.

For more information, check out www.greatkat.com

"Wagner's War" (TPR Music; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I remember reading about The Great Kat in all the guitar magazines back in the late '80s (or maybe it was the early 90s – I don't remember exactly and the timing isn’t all that important). Anyway, back in the day I had already begun to appreciate certain classical music from all of the neo-classical guitarists that I liked who had recommended listening to composers like Vivaldi and Wagner. Anyway, having read of The Great Kat, but never really hearing her work, I always wondered what I was missing. Besides, what exactly is her self-coined term 'cyberspeed' metal?

Well, now I know. The Great Kat's latest disc is entitled "Wagner's War" and its seven tracks are completed in a blazing 11 minutes and 8 seconds. And, when I say blazing, I mean BLAZING. Not to mention the fact that you’re likely to be exhausted after listening to it.

Richard Wagner, as we all know, is the German composer who - if not for the fact that he lived in the Nineteenth Century - surely would have been the leader of the world's biggest metal band. I've often thought that had he lived in our times he would have combined the classical style of Randy Rhoads and the ferocity of early Metallica. Wagner's compositions have all of the requisite grandiose elements that many found outrageous in his day, but that's what made him special. It goes without saying that The Great Kat has outrageousness in spades (just read the other reviews on this page for more information supporting that observation).

"Wagner's War" is presented in three acts centered around the themes of battle, conflict, revenge, military indoctrination, and ultimate victory. The Great Kat even finds time to provide a scathing retribution focused on the terrorists who committed the 9/11 atrocities.

The Great Kat's raspy voice instantly reminded me of Dimmu Borgir’s Shagrath (although the music is nothing like Dimmu Borgir). The rest of the band shares in the speedy, technical abilities of The Great Kat – for a band that plays at top-notch speed this is a trio that is very tight.

The production is well above average – and it would have to be to capture clearly everything that is going on.

The Great Kat plays all guitars and utilizes the MIDI to recreate the sounds of classical instruments. The Great Kat is joined by Jeff Ingegno on bass and Lionel Cordew on drums.

For more information visit http://www.greatkat.com. 

"Castration" Video

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

When we reviewed The Great Kat's "Castration" (from her "Rossini's Rape" CD) we said: "'Castration' is a balls-out (sorry, I couldn't resist) electronic explosion of noise and musical instruments that dizzies the mind. And, throughout both tracks, Kat's hellfire screams resound like demons tearing the hearts out of the innocent."

That description only begins to describe the "Castration" video - which features not only the Great Kat's visual rendition of the track, but an on-screen enactment of the title procedure itself.  It's a bloody, fast-edited two minutes plus that will leave you spinning.

Again, the Great Kat isn't for the meek or those with weak stomachs. But if it's speed and outrageousness you're looking for, the Great Kat's got it in spades. That being said, it's also time the Great Kat try something new. The cyberspeed dominatrix act is starting to get a little tiresome. The Great Kat has undeniable talent - let's see it put to something other than gratuitous use.

To order the "Castration" video, visit the Great Kat's website at http://www.greatkat.com or call 1-800-KAT-9199.

"Rossini's Rape" (TPR/Blood and Guts Music; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

The Great Kat is giving heavy metal a new face - whether heavy metal wants one or not. Actually, she'd probably scratch my eyes out if she heard me call her music "heavy metal." The Great Kat prefers 'cyberspeed' - and that's probably the best description of her music available.

At a pace equal to Slayer's fastest, The Great Kat rips through four tracks here (not one of which is over two minutes long) and lays down some of the craziest, most out-of-control tunage you're ever likely to lay ears on. The best of the four are the two classical tunes which have been "cyberized" and sped up by Kat so they become something more than their composers could ever have dreamed. 

Rossini's "William Tell Overture" for Symphony Orchestra & band plays like the sci-fi soundtrack to a William Gibson version of the Lone Ranger and Bazzini's "The Round of the Goblins" for violin, piano and band is a dizzying cornucopia of mayhem and madness. 

The two original tracks take a much simpler, much more direct approach. The first, "Sodomize" is  a raging insane-asylum of a track, littered with chaos disguised as music and filled with lyrics that would make Blackie Lawless blush. "Castration" is pretty much the same, a balls-out (sorry, I couldn't resist) electronic explosion of noise and musical instruments that dizzies the mind. And, throughout both tracks, Kat's hellfire screams resound like demons tearing the hearts out of the innocent. 

Will you like it? Hell, I don't know. I'm not even sure I do. But I'll tell you this: I've never heard anything else even remotely like it.

Featured on "Rossini's Rape" are The Great Kat - conductor, lead guitars, rhythm guitars, vocals,  screams, 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola; Jeff Ingegno, bass; Lionel Cordew, drums. There are also a ton of MIDI instruments including drums, cello, double bass, clarinets, French horns, trumpets, trombones - ah, you get the picture.

Visit the Great Kat at http://www.greatkat.com or call The Great Kat Hotline at 1-800-KAT-9199.

"Torture Chamber" Video

Reviewed by Snidermann

The Great Kat’s 2˝-minute (and aptly named) "Torture Chamber" is total, unadulterated, sadistic mayhem. What fun!! It's chock full of loud, cyberspeed music, leather whips, chrome chains and The Great Kat torturing her adoring slaves in various ways - with even a very large drill thrown in for luck.

This video is not for the faint of heart; the cover says it all: "Explicit Content." The Great Kat rocks hard and has a very sick mind. In other words, an ideal women!

To order the "Torture Chamber" video, visit the Great Kat's website at http://www.greatkat.com.

"Bloody Vivaldi" (Blood and Guts Music; 1998)greatkat.gif (54016 bytes)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

They say "Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned." Well, a woman scorned hath no fury like the Great Kat.

A graduate of the famed Julliard music college, the Great Kat (once known as Katherine Thomas) realized one day that "classical music is dead" and traded in her grand piano for a guitar. The result is "Bloody Vivaldi" and its predecessor CDs, in all of which The Great Kat uses electric guitars, electric violins, some industrial noises and a thing called "cyberspeed" to recreate classical pieces in a more updated way.

"Bloody Vivaldi," for example, begins with a blistering version of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." Lasting only two minutes and twelve seconds, listening to Kat's rendition of this classical piece is like riding a roller coaster on which the brakes have failed. You find yourself screaming with joy and, perhaps terror, but you don't want it to end. The second and third tracks, "Torture Chamber" and "Blood" are Great Kat originals that sound more like the soundtrack to those "Faces of Death" videos than your typical heavy metal song. Finally, Kat closes the CD with another raging Kat-ized rendition of Sarasate's "Carmen's Fantasy."

The Great Kat is at her best when she's "updating" the classics. Her modern take on these vintage pieces is awe-inspiring and damned entertaining. And the lady is so fast you can envision her bloodied fingertips after she finishes ripping through each song.  When it comes to her original work, Kat's rage and "cyberspeed" seem to work against her. It's like someone flicked a switch and a wave of stone cold fury is blasted from your stereo. When it's over, all you can do is put your hair back in place and thank God it's only a rock'n'roll song.

The Great Kat has also released a critically-acclaimed CD-ROM entitled "Digital Beethoven on Cyberspeed." Much more than just a computerized journey through the artist's repertoire, "Digital Beethoven" consists of the usual stuff: new Kat tracks, some Kat videos, a screensaver, etc. But it also offers biographies on 40 classical composers, an audible CyberGlossary and a music quiz (during which Kat will call you a "Moron!" if you answer incorrectly). It's a fun CD-ROM experience that doesn't only introduce the world of the Great Kat, but takes you into it. And it features some of Kat's best work, including a gut-wrenching Kat-ized version of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries."

For more on the Great Kat, check out her website at http://www.greatkat.com.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2014 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 19 Feb 2017 18:25:01 -0500.