Marty Friedman Returns To Hollywood After A 12 Year Absence

Marty Friedman
September 30, 2015
Whisky A Go-Go- Los Angeles, CA

      Los Angeles metal band Exmortus and ex-Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman teamed up for a US tour that involved lots of guitar shredding from every direction. Exmortus has been crushing the USA with their sophomore album Slave to the Sword and will very soon release their third album. After a 12-year absence, guitar god Marty Friedman has returned to the US to a very eager fanbase. The world-famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California was ready for a crazy and wild night filled with metal musicians.

With Exmortus‘ popularity on the rise, it was no surprise that when they came on stage they were greeted with a huge roar whether from fans, family, or friends. For some reason, Disney feels the need to stick their nose where it doesn’t belong and banned Exmortus from playing at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California the following day causing fans to either miss out on this amazing band, or forced them to drive out to this Hollywood show to see them. Exmortus started their set strong with the first track from the Slave to the Sword album, Rising. Exmortus‘ music is the type of metal where, from start to finish, it’s purely fast guitar playing. As soon as Rising starts playing, you’re met with an incredible rush of dual guitar leads from frontman Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez” and his partner in crime David Rivera and hard-pounding drums from cousin to Conan, Mario Moreno. Let’s not forget the heavy and funky bass lines from their newest 19exmomember, Michael Cosio.

Exmortus‘ setlist consisted of songs from the Slave to the Sword album and one new song. The second song was the title to the album, Slave to the Sword and is perhaps their most popular song to date. The song has a start to it which makes you feel like you’re preparing for a sword fight which is appropriate for the theme to the song. This song has a more heavier tune to it, only to switch to melodic guitar solos which will shred your ears off. Next up on their setlist was Immortality Made Flesh. Around this time was when the crowd came alive and crazy mosh pits started to make an appearance where people were shoved and squished every which way if you were anywhere on the floor making this song was one of the best and craziest songs of the night. The band followed with Foe Hammer and was equally as satisfying to such a crazy crowd. Exmortus has been making it known for a few months now via their Facebook page that they are working on a new album and for this tour, they brought out one of the new songs titled For the Horde. Conan made note that the song is available to purchase at their merch stand as a 7″ and 12″ vinyl single and dedicated the song to “Anyone that loves World of Warcraft”. To many people, this was the first time hearing this new song. As soon as the song started, it was an attack of pure aggressive guitar playing and immediately the fans went into a frenzy once again as another violent mosh pit broke out and plenty of people were squeezed against each other. As amazing as the new song is, it was easily the best song of the night and one can imagine what the rest of the album will sound like. The second-to-last song for Exmortus was their Beethoven cover of Moonlight Sonata: Act 3. The intro is beautifully executed on the guitar and then is changed into a metal song with guitar solos and fast drumming to match how Moonlight Sonata originally sounds on the piano. Fans of classical music will surely enjoy this interesting yet awesome cover that will make you air-guitar. The final song on their set is the last track on the Slave to the Sword album, Metal Is King. This is yet another song where it’s an all-out guitar assault from start to finish. This is also one of the few songs where Conan switches from death metal growls to classic heavy metal high-pitch singing for one line. The mosh pits were crazy and Exmortus made sure that fans felt their sword-wielding power and to only leave them hungry for more. They finished their set, came out to the crowd with their guitars out in the open to allow fans to touch and/or strum their guitar for a bit before heading out and paving the way for the headliner, Marty Friedman!

Marty Friedman made a name for himself by being the guitarist for one of the pioneers of thrash metal, Megadeth playing with them for a decade. After he left the band, he moved to Japan in 2003 where he has become an icon in his own right. After keeping fans waiting for 12 long years, Marty Friedman has returned to the USA. Friedman released his newest solo album Inferno in 2014. Although the show wasn’t sold out, the venue was near max capacity by the time 22martyFriedman came on stage. The show started with Hyper Doom from the new album and all four members of the band displayed amazing musicianship. Bassist Kyioshi is an amazing bass player as she was very energetic on stage and was slapping the bass guitar that could be perfectly heard even with all the guitar playing. Guitarist Jordan Ziff did a fine job playing alongside Friedman and displayed his own abilities. The drummer was a madman throughout the whole show and he would continuously make faces and be all over the place when drumming giving him a crazy look yet you could tell he was having the time of his life.

Friedman played Street Demon and the fans seemed to enjoy the song and were really surprised when in the middle of the song, Friedman teased the crowd by doing the acoustic passage to Megadeth‘s Holy Wars…The Punishement Due and a loud cheer was given out by the fans. Friedman continued to wow the audience with his amazing guitar skills and most noticeably, his facial expressions. One minute he would have his serious face on or an angry face, then the next he would have this very relaxed face as if he’s putting all his emotions into his playing or as if he’s handling a beautiful woman or in this case, his guitar. Given he has 12 solo albums, Friedman had lots of material to work with. Songs included in the setlist were: Elixir, Stigmata Addiction, Angel, and Devil Take Tomorrow. Friedman made note that this was his bandmate’s first time in Los Angeles and so for a few minutes, he left the stage to let his bandmates shine. Kyioshi gave a mesmerizing bass solo and Ziff showed off more of his guitar skills with a guitar solo. The band continued with Ashes to Ashes followed by Forbidden City from Friedman‘s debut solo album, Dragon’s Kiss. Thrown into the mix of that song was the guitar solo from Megadeth‘s Tornado of Souls. Megadeth fans recognized the solo and went absolutely crazy in the mosh pit as for many fans it was first time hearing the solo being played by the original guitarist. The show soon came to an end, yet fans weren’t ready to go home and kept chanting, “Marty! Marty! Marty!”. Friedman and the rest of his band came back out and Friedman reminded the crowd about his new album and played the title track from the new album Inferno followed by another new song, Undertow. Friedman took a quick break to tell the crowd thanks for all their support and was overwhelmed by the crowd’s reaction as he thought it’d be just a bunch of guys standing in the same spot with a serious face and their arms crossed across their chest. He also made note he saw a lot of females in the crowd and was happy to see that at a metal show. Friedman invited Exmortus frontman Conan to the stage where he, Friedman, and Ziff played what could be Friedman‘s best solo song, Dragon Mistress. Seeing all three guitarists play together was quite the sight. To end the night, Friedman played a cover from the Japanese pop-rock band Ikimono-gakari called Kaeritakunatta Yo. The song had an obvious Japanese sound with a metal twist which made for a very fun song to play live and fans could be seen moshing and jumping to the song. The band finished their performance, bowed before the fans and left the stage. Friedman said he wouldn’t make fans wait another 10 years for him to return, but exactly when remains to be seen.

Review by: Misael Ruiz 

Marty Friedman