Review: Joe Satriani – Shockwave Supernova (2015)


The peerless King of the Six String returns with an alter-ego in tow.


At times Satriani’s playing is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Of course, he’s done this several times before so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise but when the majority of talented guitarists, particularly in the rock & metal genres, will force-feed their talent down your throat, Satriani prefers the gentle art of persuasion via submission.

At the age of 58 there is nothing for him to prove. He is the King of the Kings. The Capo Di Tutti Capi and he has been for the best part of 30 years. There is of course expectation surrounding every Satriani release and the ability of the man to keep inventing new and exciting ways of telling a tale without the need for words.

The inspiration for Joe’s 15th studio album came from a tour in Singapore. It’s not strange for a band or artists to take inspiration from their surroundings on tour for the next album but Satch’s experience was something completely different. There is no specific narrative to follow on the album, and if required each track can be taken as a piece of music in it’s own right rather than just part of a bigger picture or idea. That said, as is the norm for a man of Satriani’s vision, there is the usual sci-fi ethereal element to his sound and feel that takes you out of your current time and place and into another, where that “another” is unknown but the music’s damn good there!! I suppose it helps to add the sci-fi touch when you record the album at Skywalker Sound in Lucas Valley.

“Shockwave Supernova” is a new alter-ego for Satriani, and he is the creative hub of the album. In a recent interview with Songfact he explained thus “I was walking out on stage, trying to remind myself not to play with my teeth anymore. And then, a few moments later, there I was, on my knees, playing with my teeth. I was like, ‘Who is this person who does this?’ It turned into a daydream that turned into a real idea for an album, which was that guy is “Shockwave Supernova,” who I’ve been using to bring myself out of my normal shell, when I’ve got to go public.”

Generally speaking the character of Shockwave Supernova is remembering his whole career and all of the crazy, beautiful and surreal moments that it was made of.   Each individual track has it’s own story to tell and when combined as a whole you then have the career. As concepts go you may say it’s a little loose, but then Satch has always had his own way of doing things and his instincts rarely betray him.

“San Francisco Blue” could be the sister track to “Three Sheets To The Wind” from his previous album 2013’s “Unstoppable Momentum”. Both tracks employ a laconic, mid-tempo style that ebbs and flows with every note.  The title track “Shockwave Supernova” serves as the “warning shot across the bough” and the swinging “In My Pocket” positively fizzes with controlled energy and vibrancy.

Familiar faces have helped to bring the Shockwave into being with bassist Chris Chaney, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta called upon once again to provide their considerable talent over a few tracks that were left over from the Unstoppable Momentum album. Whilst the principal band consists of drummer Marco Minneman, guitarist/keyboardist Mike Keneally and bassist Bryan Beller provide the majority of the music back-up to Satch. An old friend in producer/engineer John Cuniberti also makes a re-appearance after his previous work with Satch on Not Of This Earth and Surfing With The Alien.

The hard-rocking numbers that rock & metal guitarists all over the world who savour every note are found within “”Scarborough Stomp” and “A Phase I’m Going Through” both with all the swagger and loose strut that comes with decades of perfecting his craft. There is pure beauty to be found in tracks like “Butterfly and Zebra”, “Lost In A Memory”and the powerfully soaring “On Peregrine Wings”. For the record Mike Keneally shines on those tracks just as much as Satriani.

There are people who play the guitar, there are guitarists, there are guitarist/composers and then there is Joe Satriani. Whilst it would be myopic to state that Satriani is in a world of his own, when it comes to the art of storytelling through guitar orientated instrumental music, he is without doubt it’s most celebrated and revered exponent. This album only reaffirms that status.

Donnie’s Rating: 9.5/10

Shockwave Supernova is due to be unleashed on 24th July with a world tour to follow. Maximum Volume already has their tickets for the UK tour and it goes without saying that if you don’t do everything humanly, and otherworldly, possible to purchase a ticket yourself then you probably deserve a whack over the head with a JS signature Ibanez.


  1. Shockwave Supernova
  2. Lost In A Memory
  3. Crazy Joey
  4. In My Pocket
  5. On Peregrine Wings
  6. Cataclysmic
  7. San Francisco Blue
  8. Keep On Movin’
  9. All of My Life
  10. A Phase I’m Going Through
  11. Scarborough Stomp
  12. Butterfly and Zebra
  13. If There Is No Heaven
  14. Stars Race Across The Sky
  15. Goodbye Supernova 

UK Tour Dates 2015

Nov 01: Manchester O2 Apollo

Nov 02: Birmingham Symphony Hall

Nov 03: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Nov 04: Sheffield City Hall

Nov 05: Cardiff St David’s Hall

Nov 07: Southend Cliffs Pavilion

Nov 08: Bristol Colston Hall

Nov 09: Portsmouth Guildhall

Nov 10: London Hammersmith Apollo

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