Steve Vai, Inviolate (Favored Nations 2022)

Steve Vai shows on his new album Inviolate that there can never be too much guitar music in the world.

I first came to know of Steve Vai when he played for Frank Zappa, effortlessly handling those impossible guitar parts in Zappa’s complex music. He is an incredible musician and I am always been amazed when I listen to him play. I have written before that Joe Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien was the album that turned me toward solo rock and metal guitar performances. That’s true, and, while I always listen to new music from Satriani, it is Steve Vai I follow most closely. Inviolate is Vai’s tenth solo album, and it is as inventive and engaging as any he has done before.

The opening track is the sentimental “Teeth Of The Hydra.” It is a cautious opening, a way of building familiarity with the assembled listeners. The music reaches more for the ring with “Zeus In Chains,” which has an enfabling bass line and a conquering rhythm formation. The melody is ever-pleasing and shooting guitar flourishes are delightful perfumed pokes. “Little Pretty” is a walk out the back door through a very different landscape. The arrangement is still sweeping and galactic, but the particulars are a bit more personal, the fingers sharper.

“Candlepower” has a playfulness about it, an endearing lightheartedness. “Apollo In Color” offers a decidedly otherworldly feel. Exploratory. “Avalancha” is a full-on charge. It is filled with muscle and speed, only barely tempered. The backing lines are heavy and serious, and the percussion is crisp. This one will turn your head.

“Greenish Blues” plays as advertised – a somewhat sad, soulful, blues-inspired musical story. When Vai winds up and let’s loose he plays some of the most inspired lead moments on the album in this song. “Knappsack” is a race down a mountain road pursued by villains. “Sandman Cloud Mist” brings us to the dock with thoughtful reflections on the journey. I hear solemnity in it, as well as resolution. The album is moving, and here at the end Vai gives you a minute to put it all together in your mind.

Inviolate is out now through Favored Nations. Bring more instrumental guitar music into your life. Recommended.


Steve Vai website,


Favored Nations,

Steve Vai, Inviolate (Favored Nations 2022)