Personalities | Marty Friedman | Shredding Superstar | Guitar Heroes

Many guitarists of the ‘shred’ variety unfortunately stick to scalar lines and diatonic arpeggios in straight major or minor keys. Marty Friedman (b. 1962) is not one of them.

Indeed, Friedman’s tendency towards Eastern, Middle Eastern and other ethnic sounds has distinguished him as one of the most musically gifted super-pickers the guitar world has ever seen.

Martin Adam Friedman grew up in the Baltimore area. He began playing guitar at the age of 15, shortly before his family moved to Hawaii. While there, he played in several local bands and began seeking out Asian and Middle Eastern music to incorporate their exotic sounds into his own. His constant practising and unquenchable thirst for musical knowledge paid off in 1982, when he hooked up with Shrapnel Records. Five years later, working with fellow shredder Jason Becker, the duo recorded Speed Metal Symphony under the moniker Cacophony. It was a hit in the shred community, and Friedman’s solo debut, Dragon’s Kiss, followed a year later, in 1988.

The exposure, combined with Friedman’s virtuosity, led to his joining thrash giants Megadeth in 1990. Their first album together, Rust In Peace (1990), is generally recognized as one of the most technically accomplished thrash albums in history. Friedman’s fretboard explorations on such tracks as ‘Holy Wars … The Punishment Due’ and ‘Tornado Of Souls’ ably demonstrate how effective shred stylings can be when phrased appropriately. His second album with Megadeth, Countdown To Extinction (1992), further demonstrated the chemistry that had seemingly eluded singer/leader Dave Mustaine for most of his career, thanks largely to Friedman’s fretwork.

Around this time, Friedman began to seek outlets for his non-metal, exotic compositions. He formed a partnership with new-age musician Kitaro and released the Asian-themed instrumental record Scenes (1992). In the coming years, he released two other solo-guitar albums in the same vein, before recording his final album with Megadeth, Risk, in 1999. Since then, he has moved to Japan, where he regularly appears with various Japanese artists and continues to record exotic-rock instrumental guitar albums. In 2008, his eighth solo album, Future Addict, was released in Japan, featuring re-worked versions of some of his past work. Other solo albums followed, with the most recent, Inferno, released in 2014.

Essential Recordings

Solo: Dragon’s Kiss

Megadeth: Rust In Peace

Megadeth: Countdown To Extinction

Solo: Scenes

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