I’m very excited to add yet another exceptional talent to my series of ‘Top 5 Influential Guitarists‘ series, Stephan Forte. Check out the top 5 guitarists that influenced Stephan over the years:
1: Marty Friedman
Even though I knew Cacophony of course, and was already a big fan of the speed Metal Symphony album (especially the song Concerto at that time) I think I really discovered Marty’s genius with Megadeth’s Rust In Peace. As soon as I heard the classical guitar break in Holy Wars, I knew something was happening. Then, main Holy Wars solo, Hangar 18’s solo, Take No Prisoners solo, and so on…. all those amazing and twisted bends, those uber exotic scales. That was love at first sound! My favorite of all on this album is definitely Lucretia, for the inventive way of choosing such wonderful and unexpected notes. The whole construction and feeling of those solos is unbelievable. Today, Marty is still one of my major influences, and I am still learning a lot from him.
2: Jason Becker
Jason is without any doubt THE absolute Metal virtuoso. A perfect combination of flawless technique and sensibility.
I’ve been heavily influenced by his use of the whammy bar, his neverending and ultra clean arpeggios, the way he used to shred his scales, always faster, always more aggressive..and in the meantime, this very subtle Jeff Beck touch when he plays with the clean tone, letting his senisbility fully express. Still today, he is untouchable.
3: Yngwie Malmsteen
I was 14 when my brother gave me the Rising Force vinyl. I still remember the effect the acoustic intro of Black Star had on me at that time. I knew something was going on, but at that time, couldn’t really say, I was just fascinated. Months later, after listening to it over and over, I finally understood that this blend of classical elements and dramatic edge to the sound was definitely about to be a turning point in my life. That’s when I started to spend countless hours on the guitar, practicing every single lick. That’s pretty much at that point that I knew I wanted to do this with my life. Yngwie’s influence is still very present in my playing, especially in the way I’m doing my vibratos. Above all those incredible lines, diminished arpeggios etc..I think Yngwie’s vibrato is still one of the best in metal today. My favorite albums: Rising Force, Trilogy, Fire & Ice.
4: Shawn Lane
Another genius gone too soon. He was a TRUE genius, the kind of musician who cannot be categorized as a player…To me, what defines a genius, is when subhuman skills meets ultra deep sensibility in interpretation. Everything in Shawn Lane’s playing was perfect: The technique, the phrasing, the tone, the control…His use of the whammy bar also had a huge influence on my playing. Definitely one of the greatest musicians of all time.
5: Derek Taylor
There are unfortunately very few who know who Derek Taylor is. But he is one hell of a shredder and one of my other huge influences. He pushed the concept of legato and tapping very far. I love the ambiguous dissonances in his bendings, his incredible legato chops, his three note per string pentatonic licks, and of course his amazing three fingers tapping extension. One of the most outstanding player out there!
Check out the title track from Stephan Forte’s album Enigma Opera Black featuring Andy James: