Whether it be riffing out on a Solar guitar, teaching us the Swedish word of the day, reviewing gear, or just being hilarious, Ola Englund has been having an amazing couple of years over on YouTube. In addition to his great work in Feared, The Haunted, and other bands, he has over 300 thousand subs on his YouTube channel.
Ola just released his first solo album, Master of the Universe. It’s only 6 songs, but it clocks in at over 40 minutes of music! The album spans the gamut from metal, to avant garde jazz sax solos, funk sections, beautiful piano and more. If Ola’s album had a sticker on the cover, I imagine it would say something like “For fans of: Pantera, Dream Theater, Opeth and people who love riffs”.
The album starts off with the track Pizza Hawaii, which I’ve heard was the last song Ola wrote for the album. You have a haunting clean tone to kick off the track, and then it goes right into some of the most detailed distorted guitars I’ve heard in a long time. I love the riffs and how melodic they are, and I especially love the bends/open string drones he uses towards the end of the song. The playing is great, but I just can’t get over how detailed each note is on this track - making it one of my favorite songs on the album.
The next song is called Cerberus, and it’s without a doubt my favorite track. It’s 5 minutes of brutal & grindy riffs, with awesome slides and use of open notes. The track is mixed with clean sections of chorusy guitar, and some soaring leads - courtesy of a Solar guitar with a Floyd Rose. It’s funny how this album is such a good advertisement for how great these guitars sound. If you want to see if you’ll love the rest of this album, start with this track.
The third track is one of two 11 minute songs on the album. Solar, Pt. 1 moves in so many musical directions - and was written nearly 5 years ago. The track starts off with piano, and moves into some very Opeth-esque rhythm and lead playing. There are clean parts in this song that remind me of tracks off Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven album, which I’m sure was a big influence on Ola. He’s a huge Pantera fan, and has some great Dimebag Darrell signature model guitars. This song really has it all, from the piano parts, to heavier sections, and even a funkier breakdown, complete with slap bass.
Track four is That YouTube Song. This is a track filled with clean riffs tuned low, heavy verses, and some of the most shred-tastic solos on the whole album. Ola released a few different packages for this album, whether you want the CD, the vinyl, or even a cool looking Guitarists Edition - with tab book and pick tin. Hearing this song and the rest of the album, I think this is one of the best versions to pick up.
Track 5 takes us back to Solar, this time with part 2. There are reoccurring themes, but the song is much darker than the first part earlier in the album. Ola is mainly playing rhythm throughout this song, except towards the end where he takes a few leads. The rest of the song is filled with a really good sax solo - which itself starts off within the key, and then goes off the rails.
We close out the album with Slutet Pa Skivan. The shortest track at just over 3 minutes, starts with Ola playing piano and then moves in to heavier rhythm playing and some very epic prog type parts, really reminiscent of John Petrucci. It’s such a cool and concise way to end the album.
If you haven’t checked out Ola’s new album yet, I think you should give it a shot. It’s a really great first effort for his first solo album. You can stream it on Spotify and Apple Music, but to help Ola out, you should pick up one of the awesome packages he’s put together. What do you think of the album? Let me know by reaching out on Twitter or Instagram.