In the world of music, a large number of artists can sometimes be found, whose work is aimed to surprise the humankind due to their instrumental technique. This is the case of guitarist Rolf Munkes, one of the true revelations of the guitar world, one that was born in a country with a great tradition of guitar heroes (Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker).
For this first record, "No more obscurity", Munkes introduces fourteen tracks of an odd display and with different results. On the one hand, we find some straight songs close to serious AOR as "You and I" (3:55) with a refrain that is incredibly similar to Boston-, the majority of them with an effective refrain, like "Lord of ties" (3:47), or the magnificent acoustic ballad, "The man who learned to fly" (3:05). We also have some more dynamic hard rocking themes like "Starsailor" (3:15), "Where do we go from here" (4:13) -this song sounds as if written by Ace Frehley- that keeps a truly acceptable regular line, though following the hard rock tradition. A curious thing is that there is also a very good version of Polices "Message in a bottle". Respectful but still very personal.
On the other hand, Rolf delights us with some instrumental demonstrations at the guitar that, honestly, are relatively boring. I don't mean that Rolf is a bad guitarist on the contrary- but that kind of I am a fast and technical guy demonstrations are already too common. At least Rolf goes away from the neoclassicist-Baroque cliché of guitarists like Impelliteri, Masi or Malmsteen, and goes into fewer explored fields, reminding more of people like Satriani or Vai than of the ones mentioned before. Tracks as "Legatomizer" (3:52), "That´s new" (4:02), or "Confuse them all" (3:50) are all terrific samples of guitar quality, but unfortunately they end up reaching the limits of patience. There are better parts like the introduction, "Mystic Overture", (1:16) or the tapping lessons, "Tunnel strut" (1:48) and "Tap that thing" (3:47) as well as the wonderful acoustic closing of the CD, "Up and down" (3:45).
This time, Rolf (guitars, bass and keyboards) included also some musician friends like this real inhuman beast that has come from outer space to play the drums as Gerald Kross (have a look at the solo on "Drumatic" (0:51)), Goetz F. Mohr (vocals), Lance King (vocals on "Message in to bottle"), Roland Rooby Rubner (vocals on "Where do we go from here"), Frank Hoefliger (bass occasionally-), and Anders Johanson (ex-Malmsteen and now with the unbearable Hammerfall) on some drum parts.
Honestly, I believe that this CD debut could have been better, it won't please the Hard AOR fans due to the number of instrumental tracks that are included, and it wont either please the lovers of CDs made by guitarists due to the sung themes. I think that Rolf should redefine his style and, either to opt for a genre or even to produce separate instrumental and vocal CDs (something already done by Impelliteri, and it worked for him!). Now that he has incorporated to the lineup of the legendary German power-metal band Vanize, he will have enough time to think and demonstrate to the whole world what he can do with his six strings. Good luck Rolf!