"No More Obscurity" (Lion Music; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I've only heard Rolf Munkes work before on an Empire CD that I gave a less than glowing review for (click here to see that review). Interestingly, I like Munkes' solo album more than I liked that particular Empire CD, mainly because of one thing: originality.

I wasn't that impressed with Empire's "Hypnotica" because it sounded like everything else out there in that genre. Frankly, I expected the same from "No More Obscurity." There are tons of just okay CDs out there by guitarists who want to communicate beyond the scope of the band they call home and I expected Munkes to be just another one.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

Several things make Munkes' CD different than the others. First, Munkes' CD isn't just all instrumental tracks. There are several vocal tracks here as well - full-fledged melodic rock songs - and all of them are pretty good. The cover of The Police's "Message In A Bottle" is a stand-out because it's a harder-edged rock version of the tune and the sharper guitars give it a whole new sound. "The Man Who Learned To Fly" is another strong track, despite the fact that it's "ballad-y" and the vocals are a little murky in the mix.

Mainly, however, the difference is in Munkes' capable hands. I'd say that Munkes is mainly a technical player, along the lines of Yngwie Malmsteen. Sometimes, I don't care for some of Malmsteen's work because it's too regimented, too sterile. That's not the case with Munkes. Although he often plays in the same style as Malmsteen, his fret work always has a little heart or a little soul. It may not sound like much, but it makes a huge difference.

Fans of guitar maestros like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Vinnie Moore will find much to like about Munkes' "No More Obscurity," but casual guitar fans will find much to like here as well.

Also included is a two minute video featuring "You and I."

Performing on "No More Obscurity" are: Rolf Munkes - bass, keyboards, all guitars; Gerald Kloos - all drums; Goetz F. Mohr - vocals; Anders Johansson - drum solo; Lance King - vocals; Frank Hoefliger - bass; Roland Robby Rubner - vocals. 

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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 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.