When one thinks of the top countries for rock, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and to a lesser extent Australia are the greatest exporters, in that order. That scope widens a bit more when it comes to metal, with prolific bands constantly emerging out of Scandinavian and Mediterranean Europe along with the U.K and North America. These are generalities of course as quality music can come from anywhere, and there’s definitely a few corners of Earth that are underrated as far as heaviness and technical ability are concerned. Brazil is one of them, as demonstrated by the versatile talents of axeman Renan Lourenço, a growing presence in the guitar-slinger ecosphere. After putting out a pair of singles in 2019 and 2020, Renan has marked his arrival this year with the release of Inception, his full-length debut album.
Does it live up to the hype of those first two songs though? The heavy prog number “Mother Nature” undoubtedly makes for a strong opening, and the keyboard cameo of Sons Of Apollo’s Derek Sherinian lends Renan all the more credibility as a technical player. It’s not like he’s a one-lane shred monkey though, as “Dirty Channel” veers into slow blues and merges some of his initial progginess with free-flowing jazz sensibilities and “Faca Sem Ponta Não Fere Ninguém” is a wonderful acoustic demonstration of the guitar stylings of Renan’s native Brazil, a piece best accompanied by a peaceful rainfall on a Saturday afternoon. “La Inspiracion” toys first with jazz fusion then with smoothly-textured rock before spilling over into a well-executed shred session, setting the stage for the manic, fiery “Pandemia”.
“Influence” is very much in the vein of many a solo-shredder album cut over the years (think Satriani, Batio, etc) with a slight video game-esque touch at times, while “Real Life Dream” provides us with a number of crafty twists including an accordion solo and some Kotzen/Sheehan style guitar-bass synchronicity. “Inception” is initially par for the course but shifts niftily into contemporary jazz halfway through, making for a perfect offset to the closer “Tão Perto, Tão Longe”, a gentle acoustic number that in contrast to the rest of the album is the equivalent of sitting back with a pina colada on the beach after a long day’s work is done.
With Inception, Renan Lourenco delivers the goods and then some: Not only do we get to see his technical capabilities and his copious-yet-navigable potpourri of styles throughout this record, we get to see things that you wouldn’t normally see in a quote-on-quote “shred” record, chiefly pieces of violin and accordion where it makes sense to throw them in. That of course ties back into another key theme in this album, which is the sprinkling of Brazilian elements into the overall sonic stew. Not only do you get a player with talent, but a player with a clear sense of identity too; further solidifying his foundations and giving him all the more potential for the future. This is only the first album, one can only imagine where Renan will go from here as an artist. Wherever he ends up the guitar world is here for it, and hopefully the rest of the world will be too.