Below are reproductions and links of various reviews of Joe from around the world's printed media and internet.




Another great interview:


Here's a great review written by Chuck Kirby:

Joe Stump- Revenge of the Shredlord Review
      If the term "shred guitar" ever appears in Webster's dictionary, then there will be a picture of Joe Stump there with it.   Yes, there are all sorts of shredders in the world today, but no one epitomizes the term more than Joe.    That is why he lives up to the name Shredlord, and on this album, the "Revenge of the Shredlord" is indeed sweet.    How does Joe exact his revenge and who is it directed toward?   His last solo album, "Virtuostic Vendetta" also made a bold statement in its title.    Can they be in response to detractors that for whatever reason, will not recognize the technical guitar mastery and composition skills that Joe possesses and executes with mind boggling precision?    Or is it all tongue in cheek simply to confuse those that perceive a level of self assuredness or even cockiness in audacious album titles that also serve to uphold Joe's position as the Shredlord.   The answer is simply that Joe just chooses cool titles.   
       Well, let's look for a moment at the art of shredding and why one should never discount it as a tool for flashiness, but rather as a vehicle that propels a virtuoso guitar performance forward and can bring the listener to a state of exhilaration.     For Joe, shredding is not just simply a means to an end.   He uses it in measured quantities that fit perfectly in each song he composes to convey a theme that may create a mood of introspection, or one induced by intense guitar savagery that will set your teeth on edge.      And sometimes he does this all in the same song.   Herein we will find songs that contain a wide variety of styles and varying degrees of shredding.    Lest you think there is self indulgence taking place, it would behoove you to listen to each song with an open mind and observe carefully how Joe incorporates shredding with melodic intent as it is interwoven with slower solo passages and rock solid riffs and chord progressions.   As I have said before, I believe that Joe can back up the title of Shredlord with the talent and ability to be artful and creative in shredding at mind numbing speeds, or playing beautiful solo lines at slower tempos to offer a veritable guitar-fest that cannot be denied as pure guitar genius.    So with that, let's get right into the music itself on a song by song basis.
       The album starts off with a certain degree of pomp and circumstance with "The Ritual Begins".  Yes, the ritual of listening to and absorbing an album of total guitar driven metal and hard rock is ushered in by this brief passage of neo classical soloing that might have been inspired by Joe's love of the classical masters such as Vivaldi or Bach.    This introduction prepares us for a ritual of guitar, but what comes next might be preparing us for World War III.
        Track number two is entitled, "Man Your Battlestations" and right from the first notes, you are slammed to the floor with crushing up tempo speed metal riffing overlaid with Joe's signature blistering runs that meld into the main theme of the song and then go into a dizzying array of arpeggios, sweeping, and insanely fast sections of pure shred that never slow down throughout the entire song.    This is a six minute workout of inhumanly intense shredding of just about every type that Joe can infuse into one song and can definitely bring to mind images of a modern battle taking place with every kind of weapon imaginable being fired at the limits of its capacity.   If the notes were bullets, then they come and go from every direction at such astounding speeds that the subtitle of this song might be "Mini-Gun Mega-Slaughter".    As incredible as this song is, track number three picks right up and continues the theme of deadly weapons as it is titled "Pistoleros".     Another up tempo number, it starts off with a great riff and melodic theme that carries it along for around two minutes until transitioning into a newer, slightly faster theme that soon becomes saturated with lightning fast runs and arpeggios that are nicely colored with various tones that Joe brings out through changes in pickup selection.    I know that many of Joe's fans are fellow guitar players as I am, and can appreciate the innate skill that Joe has in switching pickups on the fly during soloing.  In a spontaneous stream of consciousness, Joe rips through solo passages all the while flicking his pickup selector switch back and forth with ease to imbue a solo with increased drama and power to keep the solo as dynamic as possible with contrasting tones achieved at the neck or the bridge.   This is quite evident in "Man Your Battlestations" as it is in "Pistoleros" and will continue to be in the next track, which is probably my favorite on this album entitled "Shredlord's Sonata."   
         Joe launches into an introduction of pedal tones that set the theme up which has somewhat of a galloping pace to it with a variety of shredding passages that contain arpeggios, more pedal tones and lots of linear runs in all sorts of scales and motifs.    Here Joe is playing with unabashed verve in a very classical vein, and when this song is coupled with the three that precede it, it places Joe's performance at the zenith of his skills and solidifies his stature as a world class shredder.   In my book, the "Shredlord's Sonata" will go down as one of Joe's greatest compositions.
          And it is here that Joe takes us in a new direction that is refreshing, but is no less impressive in its slower tempo that draws you into a different state of mind and compels you to realize that Joe's playing is far from one dimensional and merely designed to overwhelm with barrages of notes.   "Master's Prelude" provides us with a rare treat from Joe on the acoustic guitar and seems to be from a different time and era.  It lasts for only a minute and a half and segues into a beautiful single note theme that transports us into a magical journey "In the Master's House".     Around the two minute mark, Joe begins to really turn on the speed with incredibly lofty and uplifting arpeggios that build and build to a point of pure ecstasy around the four and a half minute mark.    Joe is obviously inspired here by Bach and I would even venture to offer a comparison to Jason Becker's "Altitudes" with its majestic beauty from over two decades previous.   The final two minutes bring forth memories of Malmsteen and an earlier influence for Joe, Ritchie Blackmore.    But as always, Joe owns these songs and he always puts his indelible mark on everything he plays.
       Well, after invoking the name of the man in black, the next song entitled "The Black Knight's Castle" indeed pays tribute to him in a style distinctly reminiscent of the Rainbow days.    Again, Joe takes inspiration from an early guitar hero and adds an unmistakable flair to it to create a shred masterpiece that takes the Rainbow flavored themes to levels of technical brilliance that Blackmore himself could never pull off. 
      After exiting the Black Knight's Castle, we venture into slightly darker territory and "Enter the Coven".    As expected, the intro is ominous and sets the stage for a supernatural excursion.    Sabbath-like riffs abound here that give way to shred stylings that recall Yngwie, but also provide us with Joe's take on some favorites of his such as Mercyful Fate, King Diamond and Andy LaRoque among others.   So here we get a bit of a King-Shredlord amalgam with a dark overall theme combined with flowing shredding throughout that circulates around in different directions and ends with some deft manipulation of the whammy bar that we rarely get to hear much of and of which I would to hear more.
       The journey into a shadowy realm continues as we move perilously close to "Evil Beasts Below".    The tempo is slower, but deliberate, and the contrast is quite stark in much of the song as the riffs are again Sabbath-like, yet Joe's solo lines are beautifully crafted and create an atmosphere of majesty rather than one of danger and evil.      The influence of Uli Jon Roth creeps into this one, but Joe keeps it on the dark side for the final few minutes as we might envision the beasts stalking their prey.
       On the next one, Joe again shifts gears and the direction with a guitar cadenza called "Strat Outa Hell".
This is a two minute display of pyrotechnics that covers the fretboard from top to bottom, and I always find it a welcome change of pace for any Joe Stump solo album.   And it is the perfect precursor for the next onslaught of brutally savage shredding in the form of "White Knuckle Mayhem".    And mayhem it is as Joe not only covers the fretboard from top to bottom, he incinerates it!    The tempo is unrelenting and provides the impetus for Joe to create a memorable theme that quickly morphs into an all out shred throwdown of epic proportions.    Again, as previously noted, his facile use of pickup selection and pick attack create tension and drama as the notes spray forth at terrifying speeds from glassy tones to crystalline bright.    At a little over three minutes, we get the rare treat of Joe tossing in a little wah which is rapidly transformed into arpeggios played with bright tones first, then smooth, and all done with stupefying precision.   This is a five minute piece of pure technical shredding proficiency and shows Joe at the pinnacle of what he can achieve in a short time span taking everything in his arsenal and using it as only a master can to create not only a fantastic piece of shredding, but a fantastic piece of music.
      As the journey comes to an end, the final track is aptly named "The End Approaches".   A slower tempo is once again used and by the style of the riffs and solos, we might be left to wonder to what end Joe is warning us of, or preparing us for.    Solo passages ebb and flow here throughout the entire song at times creating wonder and awe and at times, creating a mood of expectancy for what remains unknown.   It's almost as if Joe is taking us on a path that contains beauty, trepidation, and the possibility of peril as we come to a point, or the edge of the path to look out or over to see our final destiny, or just the end of a stage of life that we may have been in for quite awhile.   Whatever Joe had in mind for this song's title, his playing simply reinforced what I stated at the beginning of this review, that he is far more than a guitar player with the ability to do hair raising things at absurdly fast speeds, but one that is a master composer of guitar driven instrumental music of the highest caliber.
        In examining the music, it must be said that although this is indeed a showcase for Joe's talents, he doesn't play all the instruments himself.   He has help from other band members that are absolute pros themselves on their instruments and deserve accolades as well.    Jay Rigney contributes the bass work here which has always been stellar through the years, and keys are provided by Rock Jetstream and Francisco Palomo.      Killer drumming is provided by Hector (aka Blaster) Jaramillo to round it all out and these guys really lay a solid and aggressive groundwork for which Joe can unleash his torrent of shredding and riffing, and I salute them as well for their great work.
        So in closing, I have to clearly state that Joe has three essential ingredients here that permeate all of his music and they are shred mastery, shred beauty, and shred savagery.   This is simply my opinion, but I believe that those attributes form a three dimensional approach to creating a masterpiece of shred.   And this album I believe contains some of Joe's best playing to date and I continue to be stunned at his ability to expand upon his guitar vocabulary and push and stretch the technical envelope to limits that seem to have no end.    Once again, I must say "Long live the Shredlord, and long may you shred!"



Power of Metal's review of Joe's new album:


Virtuosity One review's "Revenge of The Shredlord":


Another review:


A review of Joe's new album, "Revenge of The Shredlord," starting on page 48:


Here's a very cool interview with Guitar 9 Records:

Joe Stump on WSCA 106.1 FM's 2009 Metal Report

This is WSCA 106.1 FM's wrapup of 2009 from Metal Director Mark and Asst. Metal Director Jim, including our personal favorites and the highly, highly coveted (haha) Most Played 2009 Albums list. Please post on your websites, forums, emails, and forward to bands, bandmates, management, lawyers, landlords, in-laws, debt collectors, hit men, and anyone else you can think of. Reply with your feedback! Now put your horns up for WSCA 106.1 FM's 2009 end of year Metal lists (everyone loves lists).
 -A few albums I blasted at home & on the road-
Tyr - By The Light Of The Northern Star
UDO - Dominator
Swashbuckle - Back To The Noose
Enforcer - Into The Night
Bone Gnawer - Feast Of Flesh
Wodensthrone - Loss
Tony Hernando - Actual Events
God Dethroned - Passiondale
Joe Stump - Virtuostic Vendetta
Immortal - All Shall Fall
Heavy Metal Killers compilation
...and too many more to mention

-Songs that got stuck in my head-
Eluveitie "Memento"
Tyr "Hold The Heathen Hammer High"
UDO "Dominator"
Swashbuckle "Cruise Ship Terror"
Anaal Nathrakh "More Of Fire Than Blood"
Thyrfing "Griftefrid"
Endstille "Depressive/Abstract/Banished/Despised"
Vektor "Black Future"
Bone Gnawer "Cannibal Cook-Out"
Old Man's Child "Saviours Of Doom"
Cauldron "Chains Around Heaven"
Cage "Scarlet Witch"
Ronny Munroe "Far"
...and too many more to mention

-Black Night Meditations '09 Interviews (posted on
The Great Kat, Alestorm, Nile, Thomas Watkiss, Megadeth, Cage, Enforcer & Cauldron, Rusty Cooley, Primordial & Korpiklaani, Kreator, Exodus, Chris Poland, Derek Sherinian

-Labels of the year-
Pulverised, Pure Steel, High Roller, Heavy Artillery

-Bands to watch-
Witches Mark, Hammer Horde, Hunters Moon, Wodensthrone, Vektor, Savage Blade

Killer labels coming from out of nowhere to send us their new releases because of digital delivery of album promos, so many great albums that I can't keep up
My increased workload thanks to digital promos, labels that don't include basic album info for their digital promos which further increases my workload (argh!), labels (large & small) not having enough money to ship out promo cds to us, Dio's illness

-Killer live sets-
Twisted Sister (final show in makeup, full Stay Hungry album!!!!), Alestorm, Primordial, Moonsorrow, Swashbuckle, Korpiklaani, Destruction, Krisiun, Kreator, Exodus, and so many more
-Highlight of the year-
I brought the North American Nightmare Tour featuring Enforcer & Cauldron w/ Mantic Ritual & Candy Striper Death Orgy to Portsmouth, NH on 9/21 - All bands were great to hang out with, and they each put on killer sets! Plus I had Enforcer & Cauldron in the studio earlier that day for an onair interview. This day was absolutely horns up in every way. 
-Anticipated 2010 albums-
W.A.S.P., Candy Striper Death Orgy (finally), Blind Guardian, Enforcer, Borknagar, Overkill, and too many more I can't think of
-Stuff I loved (and cranked a lot this year)-
Joetown-Pills & Ammo
Steel Panther-Feel The Steel
Kiss-Sonic Boom
Heaven & Hell-The Devil You Know
Ace Frehley-Anomaly
Lynch Mob-Smoke & Mirrors
Enforcer-Into The Night
Queensryche-American Soldier
Tyr-By The Light Of The Northern Star
Cauldron-Chained To The Nite
Tim "Ripper" Owens-Play My Game
U.F.O.-The Visitor
Steelheart-Good 2B Alive
-Biggest surprises-
Gunfire 76-Casualties & Tragedies
AC/DC- 1)"Backtracks" -for the fact that they still had good music that hadn't ever been released yet,and 2) they are/were better on the "Black Ice" World Tour than they were 18 years ago on the "Razor's Edge" tour
-Biggest disapointments-
Labels not being able to afford to mail albums out
"Radio campaigns" before they even really began, specifically Ace Frehley and Lynch Mob
-Turn It Up '09 interviews (posted on
Paul Sabu, Joetown, Queensryche, Pulse8, Spiral Trance, Ronny Munroe, Switchblade Suicide, U.F.O., Twisted Roots, Steelheart, RATT, Lita Ford, U.D.O.
-Most anticipated for 2010-
Dokken reunion w/ Lynch & Pilson?
Van Halen (?)
-Bands that should call it a day-
Fall Out Boy (they already did), they should take Anthrax with them, Mudvayne
-Label of the year-
Frontiers Records-for releasing new music from classic artists and finding new bands making music in the "old-school" spirit!
-Special shout outs-
Munsey and Ralph @ Skateboard Marketing
Steve - Ratt tour manager
Danny Stanton from the Twisted Sister camp
Joe O'Brien @ Rat Pak records 
Andy Parker - U.F.O.
Milijenko Matejevic - Steelheart
-Best songs-
1.Joetown-Crash and Finger
2.Steel Panther-Death To All But Metal/Community Property
3.U.F.O.-Hell Driver
4.U.D.O.-Dominator/The Bogeyman
5.Chickenfoot-Sexy Little Thing
6.TYR-Ride/Hold The Heathen Hammer High
8.Ronny Munroe-Far
9.Kiss-Modern Day Delilah
10.Ace Frehley-Outer Space/Fox On The Run
11.Cauldron-Chained Up In Chains
12.Enforcer-On The Loose
14.Tim "Ripper" Owens-Starting Over
15.Lynch Mob-Lucky Man

#1: Enforcer - Into The Night
#2: Heaven & Hell - The Devil You Know
#3: U.D.O. - Dominator
#4: Ronny Munroe - The Fire Within
#5: Megadeth - Endgame
#6: Tyr - By The Light Of The Northern Star
#7: Queensryche - American Soldier
#8: Various Artists - Heavy Metal Killers
#9: Cage - Science Of Annihilation
#10: KISS - Sonic Boom
#11: God Dethroned - Passiondale
#12: Steel Panther - Feel The Steel
#13: Cauldron - Chained To The Nite
#14: Derek Sherinian - Molecular Heinosity
#15: Alestorm - Black Sails At Midnight
#16: Lita Ford - Wicked Wonderland
#17: Wolf - Ravenous
#18: Ravage - The End Of Tomorrow
#19: Mantic Ritual - Executioner
#20: Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
#21: Judas Priest - A Touch Of Evil (live)
#22: Joetown - Pills And Ammo
#23: Steelheart - Good 2B Alive
#24: Ripper Owens - Play My Game
#25: Tony Hernando - Actual Events
#26: Lions Share - Dark Hours
#27: Obscura - Cosmogenesis
#28: Bone Gnawer - Feast Of Flesh
#29: Hammer Horde - Under The Mighty Oath
#30: Halford - Live Insurrection (reissue)
#31: Immortal - All Shall Fall
#32: Ace Frehley - Anomaly
#33: Behemoth - Evangelion
#34: David Chastain - Heavy Excursions
#35: Rusty Cooley - Rusty Cooley
#36: Crescent Shield - The Stars Of Never Seen
#37: Joe Stump - Virtuostic Vendetta
#38: Sacred Oath - Sacred Oath
#39: Korpiklaani - Karkelo
#40: Bloodsoaked - Sadistic Deeds...
#41: White Wizzard - High Speed G.T.O.
#42: UFO - The Visitor
#43: Snew - Snew You
#44: Ex Deo - Romulus
#45: Wodensthrone - Loss
#46: Havok - Burn
#47: Marduk - Wormwood
#48: Lightning Swords Of Death / Valdur - Split
#49: Absu - Absu
#50: Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry 25th Anniversary Edition
#51: Speedtrap - Raw Deal
#52: Razor Of Occam - Homage To Martyrs
#53: Gunfire 76 - Casualties & Tragedies
#54: Thyrfing - Hels Vite
#55: Blacklist Union - Breakin' Bread With The Devil
#56: Sex Slaves - Wasted Angel
#57: Woods Of Ypres - Independent Nature
#58: Azarath - Praise The Beast
#59: Echoes Of Eternity - As Shadows Burn
#60: My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire
#61: Suidakra - Crogacht
#62: Wolves In The Throne Room - Black Cascade
#63: Vader - Necropolis
#64: Obituary - Darkest Day
#65: Swashbuckle - Back To The Noose
#66: DC4 - Explode
#67: Endstille - Verfuhrer
#68: 1349 - Revelations Of The Black Flame
#69: Steel Assassin - In Hellfire Forged
#70: Amorphis - Skyforger
#71: Primordial - A Journey's End (reissue)
#72: Gorgoroth - Q.P.A.S.T.
#73: Pathology - Age Of Onset
#74: Shining - VI~Klagopsalmer
#75: Cold Northern Vengenace - Domination & Servitude
#76: Anaal Anthrakh - In The Constellation Of The Black Widow
#77: Faith Factor - Against A Darkened Sky
#78: Glittertind - Landkjenning
#79: Sanctification - Black Reign
#80: Vektor - Black Future
#81: Ignitor - The Spider Queen
#82: Candy Striper Death Orgy - Nitromethane EP
#83: Saxon - Into The Labyrinth
#84: Kreator - Hordes Of Chaos
#85: Eluveitie - Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion
#86: Iron Maiden - Flight 666
#87: Emperor - Live Inferno
#88: Out Loud - Out Loud
#89: Abysmal Fall - Immaculate Deception
#90: Grimmstine - Grimmstine
#91: Lynch Mob - Smoke & Mirrors
#92: Pestilential Shadows - In Memoriam Ill Omen
#93: Status Minor - Dialog
#94: Janvs - Vega
#95: Isole - Silent Ruins
#96: Crimfall - As The Path Unfolds
#97: Machines Of Grace - Machines Of Grace
#98: Blasphemer - On The Inexistence Of God
#99: Absentia Lunae - Historia Nobis Assentietvr
#100: Razor Fist - Metal Minds
#101: Orange Sky - Dat Iz Voodoo
#102: Hjallarhorn - Iron Clad Soldiers
#103: Orcustus - Orcustus
#104: Bulletboys - 10c Billionaire
#105: Farscape - For Those Who Love To Kill
#106: Primordial - Imrama (reissue)
(Enforcer, Heaven & Hell, U.D.O. were the 3 most played albums overall at WSCA in '09, all artists, all genres. Ronny Munroe, Megadeth, Tyr were 5th, 6th, 7th most played overall.)
So there you have it. Post everywhere, and reply with your feedback.



Here are a few reviews of the new album, "Virtuostic Vendetta"



Joe got a four-star review here:


"Virtuostic Vendetta" received 80/100 from Lords of Metal


Here's a KILLER review from Shred Aficionado Chuck Kirby:

    You've heard it said that someone was born to do a certain thing with their life.   An old cliché, but many times it's rooted in fact.   In the music world, a gift or ability is manifested sometimes at an early age for a musician and the person is declared a prodigy and then simply expected to grow steadily to the stature of genius in due time, which does indeed come about in some cases, but not so in others.    Some are born with a talent that lies dormant for years until the person discovers it either on purpose, or sometimes quite accidentally.     Both types of artists may ultimately arrive at a point in their life where they are heralded as masters of their instrument, having traversed different paths in the process.    Somewhere therein lies the path that has been taken by Joe Stump, who's latest instrumental offering entitled Virtuostic Vendetta, showcases guitar prowess that few players can attain, or some to even fathom.
      Before examining the guitar playing itself and songs, I want to take a moment to discuss some facts about Joe that might bring illumination to the listener about where the music comes from as I believe that music is much more than just the notes that are played.    It is an extension of the musician and all of his experience and personality.    In the contact that I have had with Joe and with his friends, I find a musician that works incredibly hard at his technique, but never uses blinding speed, or a dazzling flourish for a means unto itself, but rather to reinforce melodies that are never sacrificed for the sake of stunning technical abilities.    
       As Joe's bio states, he started taking guitar seriously at about age 13 and has never let up since.  To play at a technical level that he does with the amazing stamina that he has, he works on technique and compositional skills daily and it shows in the displays of mind boggling shredmanship that is heard on everything that he does.   But he has his mellower moments as well and lest one discount him as a
guitar noodler, they should check his music out in totality to hear his range as a player and composer.  The neo classical shred genre is too easily judged as simply guitar gymnastics for an ego driven player and embraced by technical guitar snobs.   If one would keep an open mind and take time to listen to players like Joe, they would find guitar playing that encompasses both jaw dropping technique with grace and memorable melody lines.
       Now let us make a close inspection of the compositions themselves to try and comprehend some of what Joe is capable of in both technical brilliance as well as arrangement of complex pieces of guitar mayhem.   A Stratocaster in Joe's hands is a lethal weapon, so let the shredding and slashing begin.
       The album begins in the finest tradition of neo classical fury that only Joe can unleash in a track titled "Chasing the Dragon".   Right from the start, this track is up tempo and aggressive as Joe launches into scorching riffs that set the stage for what is to come.    A beautiful neo classical theme emerges next that soon segues into a solo section that is pummeling all the way through gathering in intensity as it goes with Joe ripping up and down the neck with stupefying precision.    The shredfest continues unabated for around 2 minutes until Joe returns to the opening theme to finish up with with a flurry of sweeps and arpeggios.
       Track two is titled "Pistol Whipped" and I guarantee by the end of this song, you will feel as though you have indeed been beaten down by the sheer force of Joe's playing that can only be described as controlled brutality.   This is another up tempo excursion into areas of shred that defy comprehension and slashing riffs that sound like someone with an axe slicing chunks from a steel beam.    At about 4 minutes in, Joe builds the solo gradually to the point that the notes are coming at you like a hail of automatic gunfire at mind numbing speeds.    The song fades with a relentless barrage of notes that left me wondering how long Joe could have kept this up at these speeds and with the precision he maintains.
       The third track is an epic piece titled "The Dance of Kashani".    Here Joe nearly outdoes himself with a bit of eastern flair and neo classical stylings with some Blackmore influence thrown into the mix.    The song weaves in and out in interesting directions keeping the eastern theme moving along with intricate passages of sweeps and arpeggios that boggle the senses with their complexity until the 4:40 mark where Joe launches into a solo movement that I believe is on a whole other level and gives me chills every time I listen to it.   He then returns to a sinister theme with sledgehammer riffs and ultimately returns to an extended solo that gives another nod to the man in black before fading again with cascades of notes.     This track is without a doubt one of the best guitar performances I have ever heard in the neo classical genre and one of Joe's best as well.
       If the first 3 tracks weren't enough for shred freaks, then you will need to hold on to something for the next one as it will hit you like a freight train.   Titled "Fire and Brimstone", I agree with Joe's comments on his website on this one.   It could be the pinnacle of his neo classical playing.     This piece of guitar brilliance will blow your face off from start to finish.    Joe starts with a cadenza of pure shredding that transitions to punishing riffs which are overlaid by Eurostyle melody lines that gain in complexity to a point of savage intensity that only Joe can successfully pull off.   This is a thrill ride of neo classical shredded bliss that never gets old no matter how many times I hear it.
       We now arrive at a point where Joe goes in a slightly mellower direction with "The Beacon".   He proves that he is far more than just a shred maniac by slowing the tempo and highlighting it with evocative melody lines.     In this he reveals his ability to create a mood much different than many may have assumed and he does it with a measured degree of aplomb.
        With "Blackmore's Boogie" Joe returns to his forte with a Rainbow era inspired piece that has a "Kill the King" feel to it right from the start.   The guitar tones and style are pure Blackmore, but Joe adds his own indelible mark to the solos by turning up the shred meter far beyond what Mr. Blackmore ever did.   Joe captures the Rainbow sound better than anyone out there and I always enjoy these tracks that pay homage to one of our first players to explore neo classical themes.
       Next is "Old School Throwdown" which immediately invokes Trower, Hendrix, and Uli Jon Roth.  The tones and effects are in place on this one and Joe clearly shows us who some of his early influences were.   He glides through his solos passages on the wah with loads of emotion and continues to show us that he can be a multi-dimensional player.
       If you were worried that Joe might not offer up any more neo classical feasts, then fear no more.   "Allegro #2 in A minor" does it in spades and changes pace without really seeing an alteration of the time signature.   This one has a bit of an older Malmsteen feel to it with the pure Euro style and solo lines that go everywhere on the neck, again focusing on Joe's ability to tirelessly shred at astonishing speeds.
      OK, we had "Pistol Whipped" on track two, now we continue with the weaponry theme on "Trigger Happy".   Joe starts this one out with a touch of a rockabilly type riff that morphs into something quite different.   I would even say that he may be founding a new genre I would like to call shredabilly.   More rapid fire riffing and incendiary soloing abound throughout the song and continues to show that Joe will tackle any style and put his mark on it.
      "Symphonic Pandemonium" is next and is a short classical piece of solo guitar by Joe that is two minutes of intricate classical lines perfectly executed.  I always like to hear a composition like this one on each of Joe's CDs and only wish it were a little longer.
        "The Witching Hour" is now here as announced by the title of this track.   Reminiscent of Malmsteen's "Black Star", Joe introduces an ominous intro that sets the stage for a mystical journey into the realm of the arcane.   This is a long one that plods along as the notes rain down in torrents only to swirl upwards again repeatedly with changes in melody that intensify the dark mood.   On this piece Joe shows the ability to exhilarate while maintaining an atmosphere of the macabre.
         This brings us to the final track titled "Strat Sorcery" that has a bit of a "Little Wing" air about it with the classic "Hendrixy" type of Strat tones.   Joe starts slowly and beautifully and builds this song with graceful melody lines that create a feeling of peace and serenity that becomes quite majestic as it progresses.   It fades as Joe continues passionately and brings to a close an album of pure, unadulterated guitar mastery that I would argue is Joe's most stellar performance of this career.  
       Joe is the man of the hour here, but he didn't do it alone.   Fine musicians in their own right supported Joe on this recording and included Jay Rigney on bass, and Jay Gates on drums.   Rock Jetstream and Francisco Palomo contributed on keyboards.  These guys are pros and helped Joe sound great and I must also say that I think this is the most well produced recording that Joe has done.
       Time will tell where Joe will take his playing, but I have no doubt that with his work ethic and approach, his playing will continue to astound for years to come.   Joe will say that the bombastic titles are tongue in cheek, but in reality, he can actually back up what the titles say which very few guitar players can.   He is also unlike many guitar heroes out there that have the "star attitude" of superiority and is a regular guy that treats his fans like friends.   This album should propel Joe into wider recognition in the guitar and music world and bring him the success he richly deserves as the virtuoso that he is.    Long live the Shredlord!


Another review:


Virtuostic Vendetta Review from the Magazine Aardshock (translated by Louis Van Aalast -- Thanks!!)

After listening to his new album I can only conclude that Joe Stump belongs
to the top ten of the best guitar players in the world. “Virtuostic Vendetta”
stands convex with aggressive riffs, melodious solo’s, super fast arpeggio’s
and fabulous tempo rotations, as a result of which it doesn’t get bored a

Stump’s influences like Malmsteen, Schenker, Moore, Roth, Hendrix and
Blackmore are clearly audible. Especially Ritchie’s guitar playing gets honored
in songs like “Blackmore’s Boogie” and “The Dance Of Kashani”; a song that is
an ode to Rainbows classic track “Gates Of Babylon” On his best Stump is however
in the fantastic blues ballad “The Beacon” and the Robin Trower- and Jimi
Hendrix alike  mid tempo track “Old School Throwdown” . Especially the wahwah
solos in that song are really fantastic.

For devotees of Malmsteen there are numbers like “Allegro # 2 In A Minor” and “The Witching Hour”; a very bombastic song. With other words, “Virtuostic Vendetta” is strength fodder for guitar devotees.



Some more reviews, some great scores here:


More reviews:

Joe Stump – Neo-Classical Guitar 2: Instructional Guitar DVD (Shred Academy) By Ryan Ogle

If shred is dead, then Joe Stump is Dr. Frankenstein. This Berklee School of Music professor and all around badass has set out to spread his six-string street smarts and fretboard wizardry to the masses with this latest edition to his Neo-Classical line of guitar videos. Three-chord hacks and poseurs beware; this lesson is for seasoned soloists only. Prof. Stump pulls no punches and lets the fur fly right away with his opening demonstration of the techniques to follow. I’ve been playing for a decade and a half now and the first five minutes of this DVD almost made me sell my axe and take up cross-stitch. However, I swallowed my pride, tuned my fiddle and put my learning cap on and I’m better off for it today. The lessons are fairly easy to follow as the laidback Stump sits in front of a wall of Marshall cabinets demonstrating the lick of the minute first at 90 miles an hour then again at his top speed of 590 MPH; each run his followed by Joe’s trademark ‘COOL!?!’ as if to ask the viewer if he had mastered the idea yet. As effortlessly as Joe pulls off these near impossible licks, his heavy South-Bronx accent and charismatic personality made for a relaxed atmosphere and eased up the learning process. As a bonus treat, Stump takes the viewer through Ritchie Blackmore’s “Neo-Classical Shred Fest” and one of his own tunes too. This DVD is highly worthwhile for shredders of the intermediate to advanced levels, but you better be ready for a challenge, Stump-style.

A great review from Maximum Metal HERE

Here's a review from Blast Magazine

Joe Stump - 'Shredology'

Released through Leviathan Records in 2005

Influenced from guitar gods such as, Ritchie Blackmoore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Uli-Jon Roth, Jimi Hendix, and Michael Schenker, to the classical greats as, Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Carl Phillp Emmanuel Bach, and Ludwig Von Beethoven, this head of the rock and metal guitar department at Berklee School of Music in Boston Massachusetts burst onto the scene in 1993 with his first CD titled, 'Guitar Dominance'. During a time when major record labels were more concerned with who is downloading what MP3 file instead of artist exposure. Joe Stump has stayed underneath the heavy metal guitar radar as a guitar god.
Joe Stump's latest release is a double CD set. Disc one contains fifteen studio tracks personally chosen by Joe from his solo releases. Over the years I have found that most instrumentalist write their songs in such away were you either have too be an expert musician or the artist himself to understand the music. This is not the case with 'Shredology'!!! The songs Joe chose to put on 'Shredology' are technical enough to keep any young guitarist amazed for years, but have big enough hooks to keep non-musicians also listening! About three seconds into track one and I was an immediate fan.
Disc two consists of eight official bootleg live tracks recorded at the Midwest Shredfest. This live disc just proves that Joe is a Guitar God!!!!
If you are a young guitarist and A.) Can't afford to go to Berklee or B.) Wasn't or will never be accepted to Berklee, then I subject you buy this release.

There is a cool review of Speed Metal Messiah at

And a review of Shredology HERE

And another review HERE


Here is a review from the ROCK HARD magazine in Italy
Translated by Chris Heaven (thanks, Chris!!)

From 1993, the year of his first solo album "Guitar Dominance", Joe Stump have (in the years) developed and perfected his technical in great albums like "Rapid Fire Rondò" and "2001: A Shred Odissey", and give more value to his guitar's work with Reign of Terror albums where we can find the mith Michael Vescera on vocals. Joe never denied his musical influences that start to Malmsteen and Blackmore (we can find a tribute to them) and Paganini, Bach and Vivaldi, both amalgamated and proposed in neoclassical style with fast solos and baroque licks, alternated with emotional parts and killer riffs.

Joe Stump, called also "Supersonic Shred Machine" (from the title of his third solo album) with this seven album "Speed Metal Messiah" (a bit too boastful but we like it..) give us shocked for his incredible talent and his shredder technical, supersonic and precise! The cd, Stump is also the producer and the sound of the cd is very good a compound of melodies that cannot bored who listen because are very much on this cd. That's why Joe Stump is on the magazine Guitar One on the top ten of best guitar shredders of all the time!

We start with the prelude ("Prelude") and we can see a monster of interlace of neo-classical scales composed on a cascade of quatrains of an amazing beautiful! In the second song "Speed Metal Messiah" we start with a heavy riff with some fast sweep where we can see the incredible sweep picking of Stump and an amazing part on tapping on baroques melodies.

"The Red Priest" is dedicated to the Maestro Antonio Vivaldi and maybe in this song we can find the big analogies with Malmsteen style, sweep, fast scales, terzine and quatrains for the right tribute to the Maestro. "Eastern Beast" is a mix of scales with oriental tastes with some riffs a la Tony Iommi alternated with some baroque guitarisism very hot and melodic. In "Weapon of Choice" we can breath the air of first Y.J Malmsteen's Rising Force with that epic rhythm for them dive in a sea of scales of great melodic impact even executed with a unexceptionable technical skill and clear sound.

We need to say that the mix of the album was done in great way from Michael Vescera. Beyond to already cited speed of his shred, Joe Stump give us some moments of magic melody and passion with a brilliant sound of his ESP guitar, like in the slow songs "Reflections" and "Chamber Maid", very emotionally. "Dragon's Den" is an hymn to Stump's talent; Joe play four minutes without his band in Paganini's style solo that show us the love that he have for the big Master of the classical music and show to us with his talent that I can call "Divine". He give us a similar way with "Cadenza Diablo" but this time the tribute is for J.S.Bach! Of course he give also the personal tribute to Malmsteen and Blackmore, guitarist that teach to him part of his style. "Unleashed the fury" give us the apotheosis of the style of this two great of six chords, with the great execution of Stump. "Speed metal messiah" is a great album, amazing shredding, baroques scales, killer riffs, crazy virtuosisms, emotionally atmospheres and pure energy. The guitar maniacs need to have it, this cd is a mile stone of that kind of music. Who loves metal, the classic music and wanna listen something energetic and magic, can find on this album a good alternative to power and prog. I suggest to everyone to check Joe Stump website, where in the sound clips section you can listen some new and old songs.

Vote: 8/10

Joe Stump - Speed Metal Messiah - Lion Music

To my mind guitarist Joe Stump puts out albums that Malmsteen fans wish Yngwie J. would make. Y'know lock the damn singer in the broom closet and record an album of all out shred. Speed Metal Messiah is Stump's strongest work to date, offering a tip of the hat to Malmsteen and Ritchie Blackmore as he sands his fret board down to so much sawdust. It ain't all about flash with out substance, as many of the tracks seem to have been given a traditional structure even thought they're all instrumental. Big on riffs and melody in the appropriate places amongst all the fireworks ( check out Retroactivity) . For those that get off on superior axemanship but prefer gritty shred to quirky ultra-polished Steve Vai productions or overly technical John Petrucci-isms. Carl Begai (BWBK)...........8.5


It takes a powerful centre of gravity to hold an album comprised of sixteen songs of shredding solos together, but Joe Stump has what it takes. Whatever Stump's past output or history - all of which is unfamiliar to this writer - Speed Metal Messiah takes the spirit of the first Yngwie Malmsteen album a step forward with its Classically-influenced fret-fest. While reviews of other 'guitar hero' types might induce certain fans to stop reading, this album is actually quite good given its power, variety, bewildering dexterity and devotion to its core competency. The other instruments take a backseat to the guitar and with no vocalist in sight it is up to the axeman to sink or swim. It is a testament to the man's sheer talent that song after song - occasional known medley included - manages to grab the listener by the ear and demand his full attention. Some might hail Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani (the other JS) or Steve Vai as the masters of this much-maligned genre. It is Joe Stump who currently shows the most flame, devotion and speed on the guitar though. - Ali "The Metallian"

Maximum Metal News Article

9/23/2004 - JOE STUMP: New Solo CD, Live CD, DVD and More

Is the world coming to an end? A phrase on guitar virtuoso Joe Stump’s website sure makes it sound that way.

“Repent!” the message warns. “On September 24th, The Messiah Comes!”

Sound a little extreme? Well, don’t be alarmed; we’re not talking about the end of the world here. What we are talking about is Speed Metal Messiah, Joe Stump’s latest offering to the gods of shred, and his first for Lion Music. And while the aforementioned line may strike some as a bit pretentious, the Berklee School of Music professor clearly takes genuine pride in his latest recorded work.

“The new record’s definitely a step above everything else I’ve ever done,” says Stump. “[It’s] not all that different stylistically than my past records, but maybe even a bit more neoclassical. Almost all the tracks are very classical. There’s one cool Hendrix-y thing towards the end of the record and a really nice ballad, but even the ballad’s got somewhat of a baroque thing to it.”

One would think attempting to top his previous accomplishments on record would be enough, but Speed Metal Messiah is merely the first of several exciting developments in the Stump camp. Metal fans will be pleased to know that not only is a live album from Stump’s band Reign Of Terror in the pipeline, but the guitarist is also contemplating the band’s next studio release. But will vocalist Mike Vescera be on board for this one?

“We kind of go record to record,” Stump explains. “It s not like if all of the sudden I do a record and there’s a different guy singing in Reign of Terror, it gonna be like, ‘Oh, me and Mike had a blowout and he officially quit the band or I fired him’ or something. When it comes time to put the next record together, I’ll see. And you know, he’s got a family and all that kind of stuff as well. [We’ll] see which record company’s gonna put it out and what’s gonna happen with it, who’s gonna be on board as far as singing. I’m not saying it’s not gonna be Mike, it very well could be.”

In addition to their collaboration in Reign of Terror, Stump and Vescera have also been plotting to resurrect the latter’s first high-profile band, Obsession. This situation finds Stump doing something he rarely does in a band: working with a second lead guitarist. With original Obsession axmen Bruce Vitale and Art Maco having long since departed, Vescera sought to bolster the band’s six-string firepower by enlisting Stump and Swedish guitar wiz Robert Marcello. And while he has traditionally avoided working with other guitar players, Stump says he had no problem playing alongside Marcello.

“Well, we really didn’t like, work, we just rehearsed a bit together. But Robert’s a great player and he’s a super nice guy, so we’d talk to each other and show each other licks and kind of like, joke a around and stuff in the brief time we spent together. He’s a killer player like I said, so there’s no competitive thing, or weirdness or any of that stuff going on. He’s very nice.”

With Stump and Marcello in tow, the new Obsession lineup went about recording a demo, which Vescera shopped around to various record labels. So far, however, none of the offers made have been enough to make the recording of a new album viable, and so Obsession remains on the proverbial back burner.

“Mike hasn’t been satisfied with any of the offers from the labels as far as going full steam and going ahead putting a record together,” Stump explains. “He’s hoping for a bit more of a commitment from somebody instead of just your standard kinda small advance.”

Guitar-heads, meanwhile, can expect a feast for their eyes, ears, and fingers in the near future. Stump plans on releasing not one, but two instructional DVD’s on Neo-Classical shred guitar playing technique. Neo-Classical Guitar I can currently be ordered through his website, and Advanced Neo-Classical Guitar (for the for the truly mad axe pupil) will also be available shortly.

Finally, Classic Rock junkies can look forward to hearing Joe Stump pay tribute to the old school on his next record.

“Sometime this year I’m gonna do a retro record where I’m playing some cover tunes and some original bluesy instrumentals and then maybe a couple of retro hard rock instrumentals with vocals,” Stump reveals. “Maybe some cover tunes with vocals, a couple bluesy instrumental things and then some original compositions with vocals. And then maybe have a mix of different things on there like maybe a cool Hendrix cover, maybe something by Rory Gallagher, maybe a Tommy Bolin or Frank Marino thing on there too.”

Still can’t get enough Stump? Then catch him live and in person on his upcoming tour, where he will be taking his first steps in this new retro direction (see his website for more details). In the mean time, however, fans of challenging guitar music can rejoice once again, for on Friday, September 24th, Speed Metal Messiah is coming. Don’t let the tongue-in-cheek title fool you, though. As the man himself will tell you, Joe Stump is just a regular guy, and so, he says, are most of his fellow shredders.

“One big misconception about a lot of guitar guys is that if you play like, unbelievably fast and very technical and stuff, you must be a pompous ass. And many of the guys I’ve met, whether its Yngwie or Michael Angelo or any of the guys that are like, ripping, vicious players, all of them are very nice and very cool and fairly laid back and don’t really view it as a sport or a competition or any of that bullshit. So if there’s a misconception about people that play like that, a lot of times, that’s what it is. I’m just saying in my case and in a lot of instances, that’s not the case.”

--by Vinaya

Maximum Rock Magazine Review
Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror - Conquer & Divide - 2002
Leviathan Records

Joe Stump being a great musician so I expected no less than a fabulous recording. As I guessed this is a great CD, reminds me of a progressive form of Dio and Queensryche. There are great guitar licks throughout the whole CD.
This is a master piece from begging to end, starting with the title cut to No Limits it only proves that there are no limits for Joe Stump and Reign Of Terror Rocks the house pick it up and turn it up!!!
Rating 10

JOE STUMP - "Armed And Ready"
Leviathan Records

Originally recorded as a part of Leviathan’s “Diginet Music Guitar Masters” series “Armed and Ready,” Joe Stump’s new instrumental, is destined for much wide audience. Pulling from his influences that span Uli Jon Roth, Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Gary Moore and Yngwie Malmsteen, Stump creates an environment where he enters the arena on his own terms. Using his accomplished skill and six strings he blazes through a complicated mixture of hard rock melodies, twisted song arrangements and guitar calisthenics to expose a pureness in his playing unmatched before.

Voted one of the Top 10 shredders of all time in Guitar One magazine, Stump attacks each of the records eight tracks with visible confidence. Surprising the to novice listener is the fact that each song was done in one tack – a landmark accomplishment and one that should not be tried at home or without supervision. Playing with this much inventive, forceful and dynamic emotion is reserved for the pros only. “Mind Games” is a most fitting lead - electrifying whirlwind guitar gymnastics over a pounding backbeat. Alluring and intoxicating is the frantic nature of the seven-minute opus “Prisoner Of Time” while “Hurricane X” establishes a lyrical defiance in the face of nu-metal. “Chasing Rainbows” is more of a straight metal track. Says Stump, “with this speedy fast tempo it's a fun track to blaze it up on. My goal was to make the playing totally over the top but still build it up and let it flow.”

The slower, grinding moments on “Armed and Ready” really rise to the surface. They include the title track, “Prisoner Of Time,” the Sabbath sounding “Day Of Doom” and “Destination” however the rapid-fire of “Hot Nights” is exhilarating. As with several recordings in this genre, “Armed And Ready” does get a bit screechy in places and could stand a thicker bass end. Yet, over all it is Stumps mind-numbing brilliance as a guitarist that is quintessential here.

----- The Cutting Edge

Joe Stump - Armed & Ready
2003 Leviathan Records

The Shred Lord returns with official solo album #6. This album was originally available on the the internet only via Diginet music but the buzz that has surrounded it has ensured that a wider section of Joe's fans will get it hear it with an official release on Leviathan Records.

So enter Armed & Ready. 8 tracks totaling 54 minutes of music that showcase Stumps talents across a wide spectrum of rock styles. I am going to go out on a limb here and state that this is Joe's best solo album since 1996's 'Supersonic Shred Machine' (one of the neo-classical/shred genres best instrumental albums EVER!). The album sees Joe fired up and playing better than on any other solo release and the production is also spot on.

This album was done a little differently, Joe was given 8 backing tracks and told to play what he liked over them. As stated earlier Joe has given us a variety of styles from the all out neo-classical workout Mind Games which is 6 minutes of some of the most high octane playing you will ever hear! Think Malmsteen and Uli Roth and you will not be far out - very technically demanding playing with heavy classical overtones. This is the style best associated with Joe and it will do his reputation no harm at all - excellent!

Prisoner Of Time sees the tempo slow for a classy European Metal vibe in the vein of classic Michael Schenker and Ritchie Blackmore. For those that say Joe is only about speed and chops then have an ear full of this! Chock full of tasty melodic lines and packed with emotion. The Schenker vibe is further enhanced with a half-cocked wah pedal to really accent the mids and plenty of minor scale runs.

Day Of Doom is a dark gothic piece with a very haunting melody that goes through a series of progressions. Joe's phrasing and vibrato are superb here with some very tastefully thought out solos. Joe's tone is very good here with, you can really hear him switching between smooth neck pickup legato licks to glassy bridge pickup tones to make sustained notes ring out with punch.

Hurricane X is pure Blackmore done in the Stump style. Mixing the bluesy element of Lazy with the aggression of Under The Gun intertwined with the more classical pomp of Kill The King. Make no mistake you know this Stump, but he has nailed the Blackmore vibe - check out the licks from 1:36 through to the very Blackmore vibrato at 1:46 - blinding stuff! Joe does step outside the Blackmore sound to go into more articulated neo-classical runs though the middle section and its this blend of styles that generally gives a masterclass of the progressions made in the neo-classical genre from the primitive style started by Blackmore to the modern interpretation of Stumps own original elements. This is one fun track that its quite obvious Joe had a blast playing, this element will transcend to you the listener.

Chasing Rainbows is pure up-tempo metal. Joe builds up the layers and intensity on this track. Some of the speed of the playing on this track is just plain scary yet its fits the up-tempo vibe of the backing track to a tee. Its probably my least favorite track on the album but its a lot of fun.

Armed & Ready is Stump paying tribute to another of his influences Gary Moore (were talking his 1980's metal period not his current straight blues approach). Joe playing is more straightforward here, utilizing pinch harmonics and whammy bar tricks however the odd arpeggio section does creep in. A good track that is another quality 6 minutes.

Hot Nights sees the neo-classical vibe return with a dark harmonic minor sound with plenty of classical overtones. My only real gripe with this track is the backing section is a little one-dimensional but Joe manages to still make the track go through several areas with different inflections that breathe life into the track. Joe's speed picking here is exemplary - super clean!

Destination is pure Hendrix from the rotovibe drenched pentatonic blues licks. Stump successfully shows that he is no slouch when it comes to playing more basic rock guitar, there are some superb licks scattered liberally throughout this track. Towards the end we get some tremolo bar madness before wah drenched lead lines take control. However, Stump still finds time to peel off the occasionally descending linear lick that brings the Hendrix sound right up to date (in a technical sense).

Overall Armed & Ready is a technically, very proficient album that takes us across several styles whilst maintaining the metal vibe. Its a good indicator of the mastery of the instrument Stump has, yet it retains a very listenable vibe that even non-musicians can grasp and get a kick out of. Long time Stump fans should pick up this album a.s.a.p., whilst new listeners would find this a very good starting point to get a taster of what Joe is all about.

Hot Spots: Mind Games, Prisoner Of Time, Hurricane X.

Rating: 91%

Joe Stump – Armed and Ready
Released: 2003 (Leviathan Records
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Rick

The man with the blazing fret board is back with another solo disc full of rip snorting shredding mayhem. This CD was actually recorded as part of the Diginet Music Guitar Masters Series but because of how well it turned out it was decided to give it a proper full release. The series takes basic backing tracks of bass and drums and lets the guitar players interpret the piece as they see it in their minds eye. This leads to some interesting interpretations and truly shows how differently many composers approach their work. Joe Stump is truly one of the great guitar players in metal today and it is interesting to see his take on the Diginet backing tracks.

The disc opens with the ripper “Mind Games”. Stump wastes no time in getting right to the shredding. This is what the guy is known for after all. Guitar One magazine has even voted him one of the 10 best shredders of all time. “Day of Doom” slows Stump down but he shows on this track that he can do more than just shred his guitar to pieces. His playing is tasteful and well constructed and even the slow backing track cannot conceal his aggressive tendencies. Other players in this series have used this track to create a more blues based laid-back feel but Stump still goes for the throat. A perfect example of the difference that 2 players can see in a song when they play is the track “Hurricane X”. The Michael Harris version of this song is a jazzy tune that is relatively subdued while Stump again goes for the jugular while throwing in, what he calls, The Blackmore Shuffle. It is hard to believe that it’s the same rhythm section on both songs. That is the strength of the Diginet Music Guitar Master Series; two players can take the same rhythm tracks and come up with 2 radically different sounding visions of that song. One of the highlights of CD is the title track. Stump goes for a bluesy groovy feel ala Gary Moore which fits perfectly with the backing track and is a fitting dedication to one of Stump’s major influences…

Joe Stump is one of the few instrumental players that I can listen to and feel that he doesn’t need a vocalist. His guitar playing provides the focal point that the vocalist would take and conveys the same message without singing a word. What is more extraordinary is the fact that many of these songs are first takes. If you are a fan of excellent guitar playing then check out this CD.

----- Rick (

The Reign of Terror - Conquer & Divide

Conquer & Divide is the fourth album of the band formed by guitar master Joe Stump and supersedes their previous release, Sacred Ground. Joe Stump is joined on this album by vocalist Mike Vescera and Matt Scurfield (ex-Event, drums) and Jay Rigney (ex-Event, bass), who form a powerful rhythm section. The keyboard parts on the album are done by guest musician Mats Olausson who also played with Yngwie Malmsteen. Joe Stump has released a few instrumental guitar albums and has an insanely intense guitar playing style, which is evident on this album.

The album balances in the middle of being a progressive metal album and a thrash metal album, especially in the opening title-track, ‘Conquer & Divide’. Aggressive drumming, fast guitar riffs and haunting vocals is what this first track is about. The first half of the disc is extremely heavy, but ‘Forsaken’ starts to sound a bit more progressive, with an excellent guitar riff and less aggressive and thrashy drumming. ‘Sign of the Cross’ shows the Deep Purple / Rainbow / Dio influences on Stump’s guitar play. An excellent song. The instrumental ‘Seance’ and ‘The Meaning’ show a more progressive side of this band and they have some good keyboard arrangements to support the excellent guitar sound (of Stump). The European version has one bonus track: ‘Lament’, another instrumental with again superb guitar riffs and good keyboard play.

Conquer & Divide is an album with two faces: one mixing thrash and power metal and one much more progressive and it would be interesting to see what this band can do if they would explore their progressive side more, as in my opinion, they seem very good at it, even better than the power metal side. Joe Stump is truly a master on the guitar and he writes excellent songs. Vocals are not great, but not bad either. I miss the balance a bit in the songs, but I think The Reign Of Terror has delivered a very powerful metal album and are worthy of. Keep an eye on them as they could come up with more interesting albums.

----- Marcel Haster (Progpower Online)

Joe Stump's REIGN OF TERROR - "Conquer & Divide"
(2002 Leviathan Records)

The follow-up to "Sacred Ground" is an emphatic chapter in Progressive/Guitar-oriented Metal with an impressive "who's who" line-up of Joe Stump, Mike Viscera, Matt Scurfield, and Jay Rigney with special keyboard guest on here Mats Olausson. Reign Of Terror mixes the best elements of Dio, Rainbow and Malmsteen on this 10-track CD. Yeah, it's Neo-Classical and orchestrated with well-written songs and is very redundant in a sense if you're tired of all the Impelliterri's, MacAlpine's, Bellas' and Mattsson's but I really like this CD myself.

The catchiest thing I like about Stump is he has some great riffs and rhythms in his songs; some really chunky, heavy, cement-mixer stuff here and he plays just as well as Yngwie (I'm sure everyone knows that by now) and has many hooks in these songs; definitely 5 times better than "Sacred Ground" despite I liked that release too but not like this one...kudos!

----- Progressiviews

Joe Stump’s Reign of Terror is back for the attack on the hard and heavy 2nd power metal masterpiece CONQUER & DIVIDE on Leviathan Records. On this round, Reign of Terror delivers a mighty power metal release which features vocalist Mike Vescera (Ex-LOUDNESS / OBSESSION) once again and they hit the bulls eye right on dead center.

Joe Stump is without a doubt one of the best guitar players / shredders ever. He executes his craft and 6 string skills with fire, fury, precision and authenticity. Michael Vescera provides one of the best vocal performances of his career, laying down line after line of heavy metal venom and rage throughout all 10 songs on the CD. The rest of the backing band is to be commended for being a musically tight rhythm unit and for keeping up with light speed guitar player Joe Stump.

This CD is highly recommended for all fans of top quality US power metal.

Recommended Songs: All
Rating: (8.0/10)

----- Benjamin Niebla II (
"Conquer and Divide"

I really didn't know guitarist Joe Stump was still in business, but it's great to have him here since he's really one of the last awesome guitarists around. Well, some might call him an Yngwie clone, but hey, try to reach his quality first before you judge him! The two instrumental tracks "Séance" and "Lament" should drop your jaws. With vocalist Mike Vescara and guest keyboarder Mats Olausson, The Reign Of Terror really presents a line-up that proves its class and guarantees exceptional musicianship. Showing that much class on one side it's really hard to follow on that level with the appropriate songwriting. It seems to me like the harmonic minor mode has been over-exploited through the years and doesn't allow that many cool original (!) melodies anymore. Yngwie has done that before and even he can no longer reach the stakes he has set with his early releases. "Conquer & Divide" features all "Yngwie-Elements" that make neo-classical metal that great: Fast beats, high vocals, loads of harmonic minor scales and progressions and Joe Stump's virtuous guitar playing. While Mike Vescara is indeed a great singer, it bores me a bit that he's using almost identical lines in the main part of the songs. I'm not sure if this was his idea, but he's credited for the songwriting as well, so that's my thought. The album's highlights are Joe's instrumental tracks plus "Forsaken," "Sacrifice," and "Sign Of The Cross," which feature the most melodic quality on the 11-Track CD. Excellent musicianship, great production but rather average songs. 7.5 points.

----- Julian Angel from Meddazarock (German Website)


‘Conquer and Divide’ is the new album of REIGN OF TERROR, the American band formed around guitarist Joe Stump and lead vocalist Michael Vescara. Without a doubt, this is a high quality release that basically sets the record straight for classic American Melodic Heavy Rock and is clearly in the style of RIOT, FIFTH ANGEL, IMPELLITTERI, LEATHERWOLF and AXEL RUDI PELL (very much!). Except for the great semi-melodic rock ballad “The meaning” and the instrumentals “Seance” and “Lament”, most of the songs are straightforward up-tempo melodic heavy rockers with biting guitar work and excellent vocals. My favorite tracks are “Conquer and Divide,” “No Limits,” “Forsaken,” “Sacrifice,” and “Sign of the Cross” (LOVELY! Pure MALMSTEEN). Fans of classic American Melodic Heavy Rock will definitely love this new CD of REIGN OF TERROR!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

----- Strutter (fanzine/webzine)
Feb 2003 GuitarOne Review

Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror - Conquer And Divide

The American shred hero serves up neoclassical power metal and six string fugues of fury from front to back on his latest group effort. He certainly doesn't dispel any of the Malmsteen comparisons in his technique or songwriting, but the unflinching accuracy of his blindingly fast picking, arpeggio sweeps, and unapologetically long solos is a convincing reminder of why that style was an exciting benchmark in the 80's. From the second he starts climbing with mucho allegrosity on the opening track, Stump proves he's a monstrous technician.

Moment of Truth: No Forgiving (2:30- 4:57) Bach and roll, anyone? Playing the part of a concert violinist with a pick and going off the notes-per-bar meter, Stump flawlessly runs through his minor scale vocabulary before culminating with volcanic eruptions of arpeggios that keep pace with the cycling chord changes.
JOE STUMP'S REIGN OF TERROR - Conquer & Divide (Leviathan Records)

Score: 4.5 out of 5 Battle-Axes

At this point, I don't know if this band is called Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror or The Reign Of Terror. The band name has switched from album to album, and this release has both names referenced. Whatever the case, Conquer & Divide is their second to feature vocalist Mike Vescera (ex-Obsession, ex-Loudness, ex-Malmsteen). A much stronger release than 2001's Sacred Ground, Conquer & Divide is a more aggressive package, both instrumentally and vocally. My main complaint with Sacred Ground was its 'play it safe' feel, and Vescera's lack of high-end and overall attack. Vescera adds some edge that we haven't heard from him in quite awhile and it takes the band to another level. Stump tears up the fretboard with a 'metal-ed up' version of his neo-classical style, proving that he is one of today's best. Choruses are also much stronger here, and standout tracks include the title track, as well as the "No Limits," "No Forgiving" (which is a rare example of a long song that's exciting!), "Mark Of The Devil," and "Bite The Bullet." Fans of traditional metal, power metal, and neo-classical metal, as well as Vescera's early fans should find this album to be a winner.

----- Chris Dugan (
Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror - Conquer & Divide

Without expecting it Joe Stump's latest showed up in my mailbox a few weeks ago. Like any other metal I ran upstairs but what to do first, should I throw the album in or email him my thanks? Well, I did both, I don't remember what order though. What I do remember is that I listened to the album maybe three times that evening.

Like any of Joe's releases you get the neoclassical shred but with more of a metal flair than you would get from many of the practitioners of the style. The album comes in somewhere in the area of Rainbow meets Helloween joined by Megadeth. What does that sound like? Like a natural progression from the last Reign Of Terror release Sacred Ground except the band seems to be more comfortable as a group and it does come across. Everything has a sheen to it like a new Corvette crushing your spleen.

Along with Joe, there's Mike Vescera who played a double role as producer. A rhythm section of Jay Rigney and Matt Scurfield on bass and drums respectively. Also along for the ride is keyboard whiz Mats Olausson mostly known for his work with Yngwie Malmsteen and Ark.

The album opens with the pummeling title track and never lets up till the last song No Meaning. In between we hear Mike Vescera sing with a confidence and power I've never heard. Joe also displays some powerful playing (what did you expect) but also never sacrifices the songs flow turning it into a silly shred-fest. The one instrumental track Séance is one of the true album highlights also, very atmospheric keys and Joe plays melodic guitar lines reminiscent of weeping vocals before launching into the expected parts that make all up and coming players wish they could do that.

----- Omar Bhoorasingh
JOE STUMP'S REIGN OF TERROR - "Conquer & Divide"

Joe Stump puts the pedal to the metal on the latest offering from "Reign Of Terror". As far as neo-classical shredding goes, Stump is up there with the best of them. He's better known for his instrumental albums, so hearing him with vocalist Michael Viscera is a treat.

If you wanted to break it down into it's simplest form, you could say this is a faster version of Rainbow, but with closer inspection you'll hear they have their own identity. Stump will probably never shake the Blackmore comparison, but why would you want to! Ritchie Blackmore is instrumental in the formation of Heavy Metal, so if you are going to emulate anyone, he's a pretty damn good choice.

The songs are all fast, bordering on what some consider "Speed Metal", but somehow Stump and company make the music sound so damn comfortable you forget this is Heavy Metal! And unlike a lot of Power Metal I've heard lately, they have implemented some good hooks in choruses, which lead to the songs being more memorable.

The production is pretty good, it's a little "flat" at times and things get mashed together, but this is small criticism. Generally the album is well-produced. There isn't a lot of fancy special effects so you really do get a feel of a live album.

If you compare this to recent stuff by other virtuoso's like Yngwie Malmsteen, this one shines bright. It's probably not going to be considered a "classic", but it's an album that'll stand up for many years to come. Thank God this style hasn't gone away and that guys like Stump still have such a passion for the music.

----- Rock and a Hard Place
Reign of Terror - Conquer and Divide (Leviathan Records)

This new release from Joe Stump is an impressive melodic power metal masterpiece. Joining up the talents of guitar master Joe Stump and vocalist extraordinaire Mike Vescera (Obsession, Loudness) with the powerful rhythm section of drummer Matt Scurfield and bassist Jay Rigney has proven to be a lethal metal combination. Special guest Mats Olausson provides the keyboards throughout the release.

The Deep Purple, Rainbow and Rising Force influences are certainly noticeable within Joe Stump's composing and guitar work. The title track is a strong indication of what The Reign Of Terror's newest disc is all about: in your face, no nonsense, well crafted metal. 'No Forgiving' certainly draws from neoclassical influences. Mats' well-orchestrated keyboard textures give the tune a symphonic element and the middle classical section is one of the most demanding technical displays I've heard in a very long time. Several other tracks combine a mix of American thrash with progressive and Eurometal influences. 'Mark of the Devil' is one of these, and one of my favorites from this album. 'Sacrifice' is another, and with the addition of keyboards reminds me of what a modern-day Dio-era Rainbow would sound like. 'No Limits' is worthy of a Deep Purple album, with it's bluesy-metal guitar harmonics and just enough keyboards to keep it interesting. 'Forsaken' starts off with riffs reminiscent of an an old Maiden tune, but quickly turns into progressive metal artwork. 'Sign of the Cross' takes me back to Yngwie, as does the one instrumental on this album, 'Séance'. Pure guitar heaven. 'Bite the Bullet' brings you back to reality with the melodic riffing and fantastic harmonics. And 'The Meaning' is a great closer for this album; not just another sappy power ballad here, but a powerful piece of metal in which Mike really shows his vocal talents.

Joe Stump's Reign of Terror appears to have great musicianship, a superb guitar/vocalist combination, a solid rhythm section, and the ability to create classic metal songs. 'Conquer and Divide' is certainly one of the best true metal releases in 2002, and a pleasant surprise to say the least.

----- Walls of Fire (German Metal Site), 2002
REIGN OF TERROR "Conquer & Divide" (Leviathan)

SCORE: 96/100

I most definitely enjoyed the last Reign Of Terror record "Sacred Ground" (reviewed back in issue #29). This guy is amazing, and on this latest CD he seems to have gotten bolder, faster, and dare I say darker! As always, Joe Stump seems to have no problem letting other members of the band shine, but this is still a vehicle for Joe's amazing guitar work. Michael Vescera is back, yet again, serving up some amazingly emotional vox work. Starting things off with the title track, it's obvious that the instrumentation has gotten a lot more sinister, and the vocal work matches this with amazing frequency. 'No Forgiving' soon picks up as a more power metal oriented piece, as does the most amazing cut on here 'Forsaken,' which I have caught myself singing to many many times. 'No Limits' has some pretty amazing opening guitar leads, and many of these songs are quite fast. There's only one instrumental on this album, as opposed to I think three on the last one, but it's a slower piece. 'The Meaning' does the slow paced thing like the song 'When Will We Know' from the last album, but is a bit more interesting even if a few chorus lines tend to drag. The songs presented here are quite long, though if you love great guitar work you'll spend the extra time admiring Joe Stump's amazing solos and speedier guitar work. Proving that a guitar virtuoso doesn't have to make an album all about himself, Joe does this entire body of work with class, dignity, and the willingness to let Reign Of Terror be a BAND instead of a one man show.

----- Vibrations of Doom
Reign of Terror - Conquer & Divide

Each time I receive a CD from Leviathan Records, I know it's going to be some serious kick ass melodic power metal. I am never disappointed with the musicianship, music quality, and overall skill and power of the music. Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror is no exception. I first received a massive dose of Joe Stump's guitar virtuosity from his solo release of 2001: A Shred Odyssey. His latest project shows his skills and musical growth is constantly building to impress and amaze beyond the last. What you can expect from this album is full on power metal with a mystical and dark dreamlike feel. Conquer & Divide is certainly one extraordinary album.

The musicianship is above and beyond anything that I've heard recently. Though I've listened to this style of music since forever, I can't help but be astonished by the skill and pure talent of these guys. The vocals stood out for me, because I just knew that I had heard that amazing voice before. When I found out that it was Michael Viscera I was blown away. I was listening to Michael Viscera's amazing vocals back in the late 80's when he had his stint with the band Loudness. It is a great pleasure for me to hear Mike's voice again. Especially on such a powerhouse of an album as this one.

Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror is a power metal and virtuoso guitar enthusiast's dream come true. I have yet to hear an album this year that can compare to the power, talent, or shear depth of Conquer & Divide. This is definitely the album to get your hands on.

The Rundown: Lyrics/Songwriting: 5 stars, Production Quality: 5 stars, Musicianship: 5 stars, Originality: 4 stars, Over All: 5 stars

----- Michael Allison (
Reign Of Terror's "Conquer & Divide"

Another Reign of Terror has been released upon the masses. Just a year after the release of SACRED GROUND, Joe Stump, Mike Vescera and the rest of the crew are back with a new CD which Stump promises will be "heavier and more aggressive" than any previous Reign of Terror CD. Joining Stump: gutars and Vescera: vocals are Matt Scurfield: drums and Jay Rigney on bass. The group is again joined by special guest keyboard player Mats Olausson (Yngwie Malmsteen).

Well it's time to put Stump's promise to the test. The disc opens with the title track. Right off the bat, The Terror boys put the pedal to the metal with a shredfest that shows that everyone is at the top of their game. "Mark of the Devil" carries on in the same vein with Stump carrying this tune with some amazingly fast yet melodic playing. "Forsaken" brings the tempo down a little but this just gives Stump more room to maneuver with his six string as he releases wave after wave of blistering solos that, for the most part, complement the song to a T. Stump might have the gift of shred but he knows how to keep the playing within the parameters of the song. "Séance" is the obligatory instrumental but unlike other instrumental songs, this one is more than just Stump showing off his chops. The guitar lines take the place of the vocalist and in all actuality make this one of the more interesting compositions on the CD. CONQUER AND DIVIDE closes with "The Meaning". Vescera shines on this song as his vocals lend a desperation to the track that meshes perfectly with the subdued playing of Stump.

CONQUER AND DIVIDE is 10 songs that don't stray too far from the sound the band nailed on SACRED GROUND. I have heard The Reign of Terror in the past but it wasn't till Vescera joined that I took an avid interest in the group. His vocals bring an urgency to the band's sound that was missing on their first 2 releases. His performance on this disc is no different. Vescera and Stump are a team that seems to work together nicely. Scurfield and Rigney are a great rhythm section and augment the Vescera/Stump combination perfectly. And what can be said about Mats Olausson? His playing adds another dimension to The Reign of Terror. Is this CD heavier and more aggressive than SACRED GROUND as Stump promised? I would have to say…. yes.

----- Rick (
Reign of Terror - Conquer and Divide (Leviathan Records)

American super-shred guitar hero Joe Stump unleashes his newest effort under the Reign Of Terror moniker and man is it a killer! Comparisons to Yngwie will no doubt ensue, but what I will tell you now is that this is heavier and more aggressive than anything in Yngwie’s recent catalog! The neo-classical influences are in full force, along with the Fender Strat and Ritchie Blackmore uniform, but there are teeth and claws to go along with the flashy playing and Baroque melodies. Joe is a world-class shredder full of melodic feel and unrelenting technical ability. Said ability is saturated into every nook and cranny of this record. Mike Vescera (Loudness, Yngwie, Obsession) once again lends his powerful rasp to the mix only adding to the biting feel of this record. Event rhythm section Jay Rigney (bass) and Matt Scurfield (drums), along with current Ark (and former Yngwie) keysman Mats Olausson, provide a solid metal foundation on which the guitar and vocals do their work. This should be a record that rests in the collection of power metal fans the world over because not only is it several notches up from the band’s previous outing, Conquer & Divide is better than a lot of the power metal I have heard lately. Highlights include the opening title cut, “Mark Of The Devil” & the highly melodic instrumental “Seance”. Guitar freaks and metal enthusiasts rejoice! Reign Of Terror is here!

----- Shawn Pelata,, 2002
Joe Stump at the Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA, 8/22/02

"Joe Stump plays his axe with such intensity and talent that he could give even Steve Vai a good challenge."

"Stump awed the crowd."

----- Boston SoundCheck Magazine, Oct. 2002
Joe Stump - 2001: A Shred Odyssey (Leviathan Records)

For those of you who have forgotten what rock guitar is all about, shredder Joe Stump gives a refresher course on the title track of this collection of live and studio odds and ends. Done in one take -- with no punch-ins or overdubs -- it's an audacious, fiendishly over the top, six minute plus solo-guitar piece of such unrelenting speed, ferocity and technical brilliance that it will leave your hair standing on end. And that's just the album's first cut.

----- Mordechai Kleidermacher, Guitar World, Jan. 2002