Extreme have finally returned with news that their sixth album – aptly titled Six – is on the way, and have marked their long-awaited return with their first new single in 15 years, Rise.
With any Extreme track, the electric guitar playing of Nuno Bettencourt is a highlight, but we’d wager even his most devout followers couldn’t have predicted the heights the guitar god would reach with Rise.
But then again, most fans wouldn’t have known the task Bettencourt set himself for Six: to carry Eddie Van Halen’s guitar fire.
Just listen to that solo. Sure, the riffs are great, but the sheer level of technicality behind those lead lines are – just like most Nuno solos – almost impossible to comprehend. With a breakdown nodding to Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee, Bettencourt’s solo exceeds superhuman speeds, delivering dizzying scale lines and jaw-dropping fretboard acrobatics.
For a solo that lasts just under one minute, there’s an awful lot on display, but it’s a testament to Bettencourt’s evergreen virtuosity that each phrase – heck, each note – sounds immaculately curated and executed.
That Bettencourt has already delivered what will probably turn out to be 2023’s best guitar solo comes as no surprise, especially when the motivation behind his playing for Six is taken into consideration. Listen to Rise and you’d be forgiven for thinking Bettencourt was shredding with the future of guitar playing at stake. In his own mind, he was.
“When Eddie Van Halen passed, it really hit me,” Bettencourt commented. “I’m not going to be the one who will take the throne, but I felt some responsibility to keep guitar playing alive. So, you hear a lot of fire on the record.”
Guitar brilliance aside, vocalist Gary Cherone said of Rise, “Musically, it’s aggressive. Lyrically, it’s a cautionary tale on the rise and fall of fame. You get seduced into it. Once you’re on top, they’ll rip you apart and tear you down. That’s the nature of the beast.”
Six is set to arrive June 9 via earMUSIC, and when it does, it will be the multi-platinum hard rock outfit’s first record since 2008’s Saudades de Rock. The 15-year wait has done nothing to dampen the band’s creativity, though. According to Cherone, Six has some of the best songs Extreme have ever written.
“With Extreme, there’s always a lot of passion and a little piss and vinegar,” he noted. “We’re not in competition with anybody else, but we strive to outdo ourselves. There are some moments on this album where we did.
“We’ve managed to stay together after all these years,” Cherone continued. “We feel like we have something to prove when we get on stage or in the studio. Because of that, I believe some of these songs are among the best we’ve written.”
Echoing these sentiments, Bettencourt – who also produced the album – offered, “Whatever you think an Extreme album is after two or even three songs, it’s not. That goes for every record we’ve ever done. True Extreme fans know to ‘expect the unexpected’.
“I feel like we need a good old school rock album. Six is definitely modern, but you can put on headphones and go on a journey from top-to-bottom. It’s like Extreme 2.0.”
The tracklist for Six can be found below.
- Other Side Of The Rainbow
- Small Town Beautiful
- The Mask
- Thicker Than Blood
- Save Me
- X Out
- Beautiful Girls
- Here's To The Losers
Six is available to preorder now via earMUSIC (opens in new tab) ahead of its release on June 9.
Last month, Nuno Bettencourt was spotted playing with Rihanna at the Super Bowl, sporting what looked to be a new Washburn N4 signature model – it remains to be seen whether that same guitar will see use with Extreme.