Steve Vai harnesses lick lightning on new single, Zeus In Chains

Steve Vai
(Image credit: Larry DiMarzio)

Steve Vai’s upcoming album Inviolate is merely 15 days away, and the electric guitar virtuoso has helped heighten anticipation with the release of its latest single, Zeus In Chains.

It’s the fourth pre-release single to be unveiled, and follows in the footsteps of previous efforts Candle Power, Knappsack and Little Pretty in throwing up an abundance of classically Vai fretboard fireworks.

Safely back behind the comfort of his usual Ibanez solidbody – having donned a hollowbody in the music video for Little Pretty – Vai whips up a six-string storm, traversing the boundaries between harmony-laden lead lines, rip-roaring scale pyrotechnics and wailing, wah-drenched bends.

There’s also some neat chord work going on, which makes use of some obscure voicings, as Vai seamlessly intersperses his exploratory solo musings with some robust rhythmic passages.

According to Vai, it was an inspired recording experience – so inspired, in fact, that the song apparently named itself. “The title for this track Zeus In Chains was told to me by the track when I was listening back and asked it, ‘What’s your name’?” the virtuoso said.

“This happened during the heavy guitar breakdown with the dissonant high note that happens right before the solo,” he added. “It sounded like Zeus In Chains. Hey, it’s art. You can make up anything you want and it’s legitimate.”

Zeus In Chains will be joined on the Inviolate tracklist by Teeth Of The Hydra, Apollo In Color, Avalancha, Greenish Blues and Sandman Cloud Mist, as well as the three already available singles.

When it arrives, the nine-track instrumental album will be Vai’s 13th studio record and his first in six years, after 2016’s Modern Primitive.

“It’s very ‘Vai,’ whatever that means,” Vai observed. “Someone else might be better than me at explaining what that is. But it’s just very honest music. A lot of my records, they're long and there's a lot of concepts and playing around with stories. 

“This one has none of that,” he added. “This is nine pretty dense all-instrumental compositions that I wanted to capture and record so I could get out there and play them live for people.”

The record has also seen Vai get experimental with his guitars. Not only did he swap his Ibanez for a Gretsch while recording Little Pretty, he also wielded a monstrous triple-neck guitar dubbed The Hydra for Teeth Of The Hydra.

Inviolate is available to preorder now ahead of its January 28 release.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.