Album Review: The Great Kat - 'Beethoven Shreds'.
Back in the late 1980’s The Great Kat emerged onto the metal scene in an explosion of attitude, theatrics, dominatrix gear and mind-boggling guitar licks. Adding sensationalist journalist-baiting quotes – “The Great Kat is God!” into the mix, and titling her debut album “Worship Me Or Die”, it wasn’t easy to ignore the English born, U.S. raised hell raiser. Behind the hype, leather and lace, piss and vinegar however, it was easy to forget that there was a genuinely talented individual; Katherine Thomas, a graduate of the prestigious Julliard School of music, New York’s world-renowned centre for performing arts.
Combining a classically trained background with the emerging speed metal scene that was becoming prevalent at the time, Kat took classical pieces and turned them into dirty, metal instrumental anthems, playing them at a breakneck speed that has since seen her ranked among Guitar World’s fifty fastest guitarists of all time.
Originally released in 2011, but available now on its five year anniversary from Kat’s website, ‘Beethoven Shreds’ collects pieces by Beethoven, Bach, Paganini and others into what could quite rightly claim to be the shortest album ever made. With just seven tracks that clock in with a total running time of around seven minutes – yes SEVEN – it’s hand’s down, the most frenetic album that this reviewer has ever heard.
Make no mistake; Kat’s musical approach is every bit as abrasive, terrifying and as nail-biting as the woman herself. The opening ‘The Flight Of The Bumble-Bee’ is a flurry of notes that is positively dizzying, with Kat's 2011 striped insect infinitely more wound-up than its Rimsky-Korsakov created cousin.
‘Beethoven’s 5th Symphony”, which follows, offers no let-up. Originally covered back in 1990 as ‘Beethoven Mosh’ on her ‘Beethoven On Speed’ release at an altogether more reserved pace, here it sticks to ‘Beethoven Shreds’ aesthetic of speed, speed, and more speed. It really is blink and you’ll miss it stuff, with the album’s longest track; a similarly-breathless run through Bach’s ‘Brandenburg Concerto #3’, clocking in at just one minute and forty-one seconds.
There’s no doubt that The Great Kat knows what she’s doing; cultivating an image that is as crazy as the music she produces, ‘Beethoven Shreds’ sees the guitarist continuing on in exactly the same manner as in her heyday. So with seven songs in seven minutes, perhaps a seven-word summary is appropriate; The Great Kat – she plays very fast.
By Eamon O'Neill on 5th September 2016.
'Beethoven Shreds' is available now.