Album Review: Udi Levy, Addictive Substance

Udi Levy, Addictive Substance
Genre: Instrumental guitar rock, fusion, shred
Musicianship: 4.0
Songwriting: 3.0
Production & Engineering: 3.0
Vibe: 3.5
Overall Rating: 3.5 Stars
3.38 (out of 4)


New Yorker Udi Levy is back with a new offering for 2017, continuing his foray into the world of shred, having already proven himself as a world-renowned fusion and jazz guitarist. Bringing jazz know-how to instrumental guitar rock definitely lifts the material above the noise of pointless wankery, and Levy’s bold approach to shred is both refreshing and joyful to listen to.

Given his deep jazz and fusion roots, we had high expectations for Addictive Substance, and the material often delivered. The CD starts off with a strong theme and a great hook on the song “Sex Drive,” not unlike what artists such as Joe Satriani have built entire careers around. Levy’s way of masterfully phrasing legato along with pinch harmonics was so fluid and effortless, we sometimes wondered if he takes a whole new approach to the instrument. The guitar sound and effects choices sounded very well thought out, and on most of the tracks, Levy dials back the gain enough so that he doesn’t completely kill dynamics and pick attack. Levy shows us less is indeed more and delivers passionate and tasteful performances throughout.

The disk does suffer slightly from a case of ADD. It takes you from great hooks and simply stated themes (opening track) to all out shred (the title track), to the swagger of the song, “Fuzzy Feelin’.” These examples could each set the mood and theme for entire records unto themselves because they are so distinct from one another. Although we think the playing is fantastic throughout, the CD at times seems to have a lack of cohesiveness.  The song, “For The Hate Of The Devil” seems to encompass EVERY mood imaginable, and it’s pretty out there in terms of trying to pigeonhole it into a category. We’d have to simply call it “Udi.” To Levy’s further credit, though, throughout the wide variety of stylistic ideas presented on the album, he never sounds generic and his fingerprint and uniqueness is present from start to finish.

There are virtually no sounds on this CD to speak of other than Guitar, bass and drums, and the mix is presented intelligibly and professionally. We definitely appreciate the dynamic content of the mix, placed delicately where needed and like a sledgehammer where appropriate as well. Levy had set out to show the world there are no boundaries between rock, fusion, shred and jazz, and we think Addictive Substance gets his point across loud and clear.