Wagner's War

The Great Kat

TPR Music, 2002

http://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › The_Great_Kat

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


For the uninitiated, The Great Kat is one of the most notorious musicians in the history of metal music. I honestly don't think I've ever heard anyone play the guitar as ridiculously fast as she does. Yes, the shocking truth is that metal's quickest shredder is a woman!! Even Yngwie Malmsteen sounds as slow as molasses next to her!

Seeing how she's an honors graduate of the world famous Julliard School Of Music in classical violin and has even played recitals at Carnegie Hall (before she started her thrash metal career), it's quite clear that she's a gifted virtuoso.

Her own mission statement is this: to take the finest works of the masters of the classical music world and turn them into heavy thrash songs played at blindingly fast speeds, creating a new genre she has affectionately dubbed "shred-classical." And she pulls no punches - every single note on Wagner's War (which was inspired by the 9/11 attacks and in which she sounds her battle cry to see all the terrorists of the world die vicious, brutal deaths) is delivered with all the subtlety of a detonating nuclear warhead.

The Great Kat has been doing this since her first album came out in the late '80s. You'd think someone so intense would mellow a bit with age, but in her case she's only gotten more extreme. Everything about her music is loud, in your face, and intense, at all times. I honestly don't think she's physically capable of playing anything slower than at lightning speed. You'll find that true about her image as well. In all her interviews she answers every question with brief, shouted, one or two sentence statements that are exclusively in caps and always end with a dozen exclamation marks. I haven't decided yet whether she's truly insane or just never breaks character. Also, I have yet to see a picture of her where she isn't wearing an assortment of rather revealing lingerie and bondage outfits, and snarling at the camera like a demon with an evil stare. And why in every single picture is her mouth open wide enough to swallow a beach ball? Check my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 her Web site for the evidence.

In keeping with the short, yet insanely intense bursts of her music, Wagner's War ends almost as quickly as it begins - the seven songs run for only eleven minutes in total! See, The Great Kat is one smart, sexy lady - she knows that no normal mortal ear can handle her musical onslaught for more than a few minutes at a time, and luckily that's the only thing that makes her recordings listenable for the most part, because to be honest, this music is shit. I mean, it's almost unlistenable. And yet I like it nevertheless, which I will explain eventually.

The production sucks. Instead of being shocked and awed by her orgasmic leads and impeccable technique, I spend most of the time struggling to hear the guitar playing because it's buried in a muddy midrange mix at the same level as everything else. This lack of instrumental separation too often results in an indecipherable blur of noise. The rhythm riffs don't sound nearly as heavy or powerful as they should, and the drumming sounds like someone smacking a cardboard box on a wood surface. In time, at least.

The comical highlight is the claim that there's a whole symphony orchestra backing up The Great Kat on a few of these tracks. I mean, even someone deaf would burst out laughing upon hearing the obvious synthesized horns on the opening track, a horrendously butchered cover of Richard Wagner's magnificent "The Ride Of The Valkyries."

The only other highlights are a neck breaking cover of Lizst's "Hungarian Rhapsody #2" that has to be heard to be believed, and a cover of Sarasate's "Zapateado," in which she whips out her violin to demonstrate skills every bit as astounding as her guitar playing. Never mind the original material here, as it's practically worthless. None of her own songs have an ounce of the compositional imagination of the covers, which really makes you wonder why she'd allow them to be so obviously overshadowed.

Vocals are quite scarce, since the entire emphasis is on her instrumental skills, though occasionally she burps out a series of unintelligible shrieks and growls which add to the already Everest-high cheese factor. I should also quickly add that one listens to The Great Kat's music for one reason, and one reason only: to be drowned by her technical ability. You don't listen for songwriting, melodic development, and definitely not for lyrical content, though the few lyrics are downright hilarious!

And that finally brings me to why I astonishingly find myself liking the album. From front to back, beginning to end, and everything in between, it's so bad that it's good. It is unabashed cheese, and absolutely revels in that fact. As lousy as the production and as shallow as the songwriting are, the entire extreme and uncompromising presentation make it a deceptively entertaining listening experience. As something that The Great Kat probably shat out in all of five minutes, Wagner's War has the same sort of low-budget charm and no-frills appeal of an Ed Wood movie. My friend and I were howling in our seats while listening to this, which automatically makes it far better than a lot of music out there. She's a cartoon character, and I hope she never changes. I sure hope she at least gets a proper producer who actually knows what they're doing next time though, because I really would like to be able to properly hear her dazzling talents. I'm sure her live shows are spectacular.

Well, I'm ready for the next eleven-minute blast, aren't you?

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of TPR Music, and is used for informational purposes only.