After more than 20 years in the music business, as a session guitarist, band member, teacher and so many other roles, Achilleas Diamantis released his first solo album ''Loaded'' in 2013. Compared to the much more elaborate style of his main band ''Confusion'', ''Loaded'' takes a much more rock approach, therefore, it would be ''unfair'' to judge this release on a progressive rock context.
''Loaded'' presents mostly straightforward, 'in-your-face', instrumental heavy rock with a hefty dose of shred on mostly 4/4 tempos. Except for the drums, Diamantis plays the guitar, bass and keyboards on this album, which is primarily based on the virtuosity and technical ability of its creator. Although Diamantis quotes Vai, Satriani and Beck among his main influences, one can also hear his more 'rocking' aspect on the album, on the style of Gary Moore and Michael Schenker.
If you are looking for his more innovative moments, ''Give me a Sign'' and ''Big Hearted Love'' include sections with dissonant and more elaborate chord progressions among the super-heavy mid-tempo riffing. Within the overall solid virtuoso guitar playing I found a number of cliche melodies, more-than-required shredding passages and a relative lack of emotion behind the compositions. There are of course exceptions to this in the superb Satriani-esque ''Heavy Weapon'' and the twin-guitar, beautiful melodies of ''It Hurts to Want You''. On the basis of a crystal-clear production, the sound of Diamantis' guitars filled my ears pleasantly.
''Loaded'' does not break new ground but flows very well through the balladry, mid-tempo and high-speed passages with enough variability. While I found myself enjoying more the first half of the album, I feel that those fond of virtuoso instrumental heavy rock will enjoy this.