Generation Axe: The Guitars That Destroyed The World (Live In China) (earMUSIC)

‘Hi, it’s Steve – you fancy jamming out some tunes across the globe sometime soon?’. When Mr Vai comes calling you can’t really say no and, sure enough, Messrs Malmsteen, Wylde, Bettencourt and Abasi answered their buddy’s proposal without a second thought. 

As a Who’s Who of rock guitar greats, the assembled quintet would take some beating – in fact the only notable absentee was Joe Satriani. Satch would surely have completed the finest ever line-up of fret-burning six-string talent.

Even without Satriani, The Guitars That Destroyed The World is a remarkable celebration of life-affirming riffs. Played out in front of typically excitable Chinese crowds, all five main men are given ample opportunity to show their chops – solo, in tandem and as one awe-inspiring ensemble.

Bettencourt’s medley of Extreme solos represents a standout moment but Zakk Wylde pushes him close with a delicious rendition of The Allman Brothers’ Band’s Whipping Post. Malmsteen comes to the fore with a fast-paced (no surprises there) medley of his own – racing through neatly knitted together snippets of Valhalla, Baroque N Roll, Overture, From A Thousand Cuts, Arpeggios From Hell and Far Beyond The Sun. Hearing is believing.

Animals As Leaders axeman Abasi might be the baby of the group – and perhaps the least recognisable member of this star-studded quintet – but he hooks up with Bettencourt to glorious effect on Physical Education.

And The Guitars That Destroyed The World is an education in itself. Those new to the electric axe will learn more here than hours spent gazing at YouTube tutorials or poring over texts and tab.

As Generation Axe’s founder-in-chief Vai could have stolen the show but his is an understated and typically polished performance: a brilliant version of Bad Horsie is pure musical brilliance.

Indulge, enjoy, admire and repeat. And pray the UK gets a visit from Generation Axe sometime soon.