Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force (Polydor) 1984
I bought this album as a new release in '84 and was BLOWN AWAY! I played this album so many times I wore the grooves off the vinyl. Sure, Eddie Van Halen had introduced dazzling speed and technique to the realm of heavy metal guitar and Randy Rhoads' compositions fused heavy metal with neo-classical influences, but no one did it like Yngwie. This album literally changed the way people looked at the guitar in heavy metal. Yngwie combined classical chord progressions, harmonic minor scales, and jaw-dropping, fast picking techniques that included the sweep-picked arpeggio that few were using yet. This combined with Yngwie's love of classic bands like Deep Purple and Rainbow, combined for one of the finest, mostly instrumental heavy metal albums to come out of the 80's and began the age of the guitar shredder. Add to this the two tracks with vocals that feature extraordinary vocalist Jeff Scott Soto.
I saw the band on this tour, although they were playing "new" songs off Marching Out as well. I bought a t-shirt from this tour that I hung onto until May 2000, when I sold it on ebay.
This is Yngwie's finest moment. There is not a weak song on this disc in my opinion. This is helped by the phenomenal keyboard playing of Jen Johanssen and the great vocals of Jeff Scott Soto. Of course Anders Johansson (drums) is no slouch either. This time 'round, the vocal tracks outnumber the instrumentals. The lyrical themes are rather dark, but are no where near as important, or as interesting as the songs themselves. The mixture of Yngwie's guitar technique and charisma is matched only but the Soto's stunning vocal melodies.
As I said, I saw Rising Force play much of this material on their "Rape and Pilage Tour 1985." It was a great show with some great showmen and much of the material for this album was performed. Following his time with Rising Force, Jens Johansson briefly joined Dio, and now plays for Stratovarius. Anders Johansson was last seen with another Swedish band, Hammerfall.
The cover pictured to the left is the original LP cover. The cover to the left is the CD re-issue cover. I own both.
1. "You Don't Remember, I'll Never Forget" (4:29)
2. "Liar" (4:07)
3. "Queen In Love" (4:02)
4. "Crying" [instrumental] (5:01)
5. "Fury" (3:54)
6. "Fire" ( 4:09)
7. "Magic Mirror" (3:51)
8. "Dark Ages" (3:54)
9. "Trilogy Suite Op: 5" [instrumental] (7:13)
"Trilogy" was Yngwie's best selling LP in the U.S. and it's easy to see why. Yngwie was still at his creative best here. He was still incorporating the medieval imagery in the lyrics, along with the neo-classical heavy metal sound, but with "Trilogy" the songs tended to lean a bit more towards the commercial, radio-friendly, European hard rock sound. Basically on "Trilogy" Yngwie doesn't put technique and fret board fury over memorable song writing and came out with a winner. Original vocalist Jeff Scott Soto is replaced with new singer Mark Boals who howls like Ronnie James Dio and screams like Ian Gillan, further adding to the gothic nature of the songs. As well, drummerAnders Johansson and keyboard player Jens Johansson add a lot of power to this album.
"Magic Mirror" and "You Don't Remember, I'll Never Forget" are probably the heaviest tracks here, and are also the songs that continue the sound from the first two Rising Force records. (Although Yngwie dropped the Rising Force moniker for this album.) Overall, the songs all have memorable choruses. "Queen in Love" is easily one of the most memorable songs, with it's pop hook and melodic tone. "Fury" is one of the faster songs on the album, although I don't think this song touches the greatness of some of the material on the first two Yngwie LPs. Probably the standout track on "Trilogy" for many Yngwie fanatics is the seven minutre "Trilogy Suite Op; 5". This song gives Yngwie a chance to let his fingers fly with some Uli Roth inspired fretboard acrobatics. This song defines the word "shred" and is Yngwie at his finest.
"Trilogy" may not be the album many think of as Yngwie's best, but it is certainly a high point in the man's catalog. I've read that Yngwie himself doesn't have much good to say about this album. Regardless, I find much to like about "Trilogy" and think it was the last great Malmsteen albums for some time.
I've always been a fan of Malmsteen, but my main criticism has always been that he plays with total technique at the expense of hook-laden song writing, and often times emotion and aggression as well. "Odyssy" while being a good album, suffers from the same thing. The addition of former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner certainly spices things up a bit. Overall, however, this album is not Yngwie's finest moment. It is quite obvious that he was attempting to gain some mainstream radio airplay so that even his shredding guitar solos are toned down a bit. I suppose this could be considered a good thing but isn't the dazzling guitar playing the whole reason to listen to Yngwie? Anyhow, I use to own this one before, but traded it on the PM Board for something I couldn't find anywhere else. I figured I could always find another copy of this used, and I did.
Yngwie Malmsteen - Trial By Fire: Live in Lenegrad (Polydor) 1989
1. "Liar" (3:56)
Live albums are usually the end of an era, or the beginning of a new era. "Trial By Fire" marks the end of an era for Yngwie, and for his form of shred-metal in general. Whereas in the 80's insane guitar pyrotechnics was considered cool, in the 90's it became cool to look like a nerd and not play any guitar solos whatsoever. Also, Yngwie was steeped deep into pop metal scene by this time, which in 1989 was still considered cool, but would in a few short years be almost completely wiped out by grunge. Still, for those of us who can appreciate stellar musicianship, razor sharp guitar licks, and killer vocals, courtesy of Joe Lynn Turner, "Live in Lenegrad" has held up well over time. There are plenty of self absorbed guitar solos, but then that's what we all loved about Yngwie to begin with. Actually my favorite tracks from this disc are the two instrumental "Far Beyond the Sun" and "Black Star" as well as the outstanding extended version of "You Don't Remember, I'll Never Forget". This particular live version takes on a Deep Purple vibe. Also of interest is the ten minute guitar solo and a smokin' version of Jimi Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic."
Loads of neo-classical commercial metal tracks on this disc, but the songwriting begins to suffer on this one. Yngwie started to write songs that were there simply to either showcase his guitar playing abilities or to gain him some radio airplay. No doubt that Yngwie is one of the best, as far as dazzling, lightning-fast technique goes, but when the songs start sounding like they could have been on Rainbow's later day offerings, then he just sounds like one of the many, rather than the originator.
Yngwie Malmsteen - Fire & Ice (Elektra) 1992
With the advent of crappy grunge/alternative rock that made the lack of talent a cool thing, many of the 80's shred guitarists including innovator Yngwie, were left out in the cold. After signing a big label contract Yngwie felt the need to play more radio-oriented pop metal. Unfortunately, the radio wasn't playing this type of music in the early 90's as the trends had changed, so the album failed to burn up the charts and Yngwie was dropped by Elektra. Yngwie, in my opinion, always sounded best when playing the neo-classic metal of his early Rising Force days. The majority of this album is commercial pop metal. "Cry No More" is the excellent exception, however, as it contains an arrangement of Bach's "Badinerie" and some jaw dropping guitar work.
Yngwie Malmsteen - The Seventh Sign (CMC International) 1994
'Seventh Sign' starts off as one would expect any Yngwie album, with fast riffs, solos blazing and neo-classical melodies. What is surprising about this disc starts at song two, "I Don't Know." Yngwie drops the fast shred for a Jimi Hendrix-type song complete with the cry-baby, wah-wah solos. "Never Meant To Be" continues in a slightly more bluesy mood. Surprising, yet a pleasant change. I should also make mention that American (ex-Loudness) vocalist Michael Vescera does a fantastic job on this disc as well. 'Seventh Sign', along with most of the Malmsteen catalogue has been re-issued with different cover art by Spitfire. The above cover is the original.
Yngwie Malmsteen - Magnum Opus (Vicery Music) 1995
This album features ex-Loudness singer Mike Vescera. I must say that he does a marvelous job and even co-wrote half the songs on this disc. Overall, however, this disc seems a bit predictable for Yngwie, finding him once again reaching for commercial success with pop hard rock numbers and sugar coated ballads (i.e. I'd Die Without You," "Cross the Line"). Now, I am not saying this is a bad album at all, it's just undistinguishable from several other albums in my Yngwie collection. Of course Yngwie's neo-classical guitar riffs abound and the instrumental is awesome, but after repeated listens I found it hard to come up with anything to say. In other words, nothing stood out in this disc. One strange thing about this disc is that it is somewhat hard to find in this form. The Spitfire re-issue is everywhere, but this particular copy with the original artwork and layout was never given a proper release in the U.S. as far as I know. Luckily a friend found me this copy. Strange thing is that the record company address is in New York. They obviously don't have very strong distribution or marketing here. Let's hope that Spitfire does a better job for the Swedish guitar virtuoso.
Yngwie Malmsteen - Inspiration (Spitfire) 1996/2000 re-issue
As I have said on previous "tribute" reviews, I am a sucker for albums like this. How can I resist one of my favorite artists doing covers of some of my other favorite artists. It's painfully obvious where Yngwie's "inspiration" comes from with the inclusion of FOUR songs from Deep Purple, and one from Rainbow!!! I've always been a fan of Ritchie Blackmore myself but never considered him to be the awe inspiring guitarist that Yngwie obviously does. Of course he did help write one of the greatest albums of all time "Machine Head." Of the five Blackmore songs, "Gates of Babylon" is probably my favorite with "Pictures of Home" running a close second. In any case, besides Ritchie, Yngwie also plays homage to Kansas, Jimi Hendrix, U.K., the Scorpions and Rush. There is a wide variety of excellent vocalists on this disc that compliment Yngwie's shred soloing. Original Rising Force vocalist Jeff Scott Soto is by far my favorite but Rainbow's Joe Lyn Turner (who sang for Yngwie's "Odyseey) and ex-Uriah Heep vocalist Mark Boals are excellent as well. Even Yngwie takes a stab at singing on Hendrix's "Manic Depression." He's not terrible, but he doesn't have the charisma of all the others. Actually, King's X have also done a stellar version of this Hendrix song. Oh, I might also add that the cover art has been changed on this US re-release as well. The new insert is not bad, but not really any better than the original. All in all, "Inspiration" is a very enjoyable disc. All hail the king of ego, and a darn fine guitarist I might add...Yngwie Malmsteen.
Yngwie Malmsteen - Facing the Animal (Mercury) 1997
Facing the Animal is a good Yngwie disc. I've not been to fond of some of the more recent Yngwie albums but this disc is a return to the heavier sound of the early Rising Force days. The first four tracks simply shred from beginning to end. Track 5 "Like an Angel" is a ballad, as the title suggests, but still contains plenty of cools guitar solos. The thing about Yngwie that has bugged me in the past is that he seems more concerned with showing off than with writing good material. While Facing the Animal still has loads of self indulgent Yngwie solos, the songwriting is much more enjoyable. Also of note, Cozy Powell (of Rainbow fame) plays drums on this disc. I wonder why he dropped the "J" in Yngwie J. Malmsteen? How are we suppose to distinguish him from all the other Yngwie Malmsteens?
Yngwie contributed an excellent version of "Gates of Babylon" to the Dio tribute album with Jeff Scott Soto back on vocals! He also played an awesome version of Aerosmith's DREAM ON with Ronnie James Dio on "Not the Same Old Song and Dance-A Tribute to Aerosmith." and played lead guitar on Queen's "Keep Yourself Alive" on the "Dragon Attack-a tribute to Queen" cd.
Yngwie Johann Malmsteen -
1. "Icarus Dream Fanfare"
I find it amusing to read reviews that claim that this disc it is the first album to combine the electric guitar with a backing orchestra. Deep Purple were doing this in the early 70's. Aerosmith played 'Dream On' with an orchestra backing them in the early 90's, and in the late 90's Metallica played two shows with a complete orchestra backing them. What Yngwie did succeed in being the first at was creating the first work of its kind to feature the electric guitar as the lead instrument in a concerto. A connoisseur of classical music, I am not, although I do own a few classical tapes by such composers as Bach and Beethoven. However, it is impossible for me to comment much on this cd other than to say that I enjoy it, although I can also honestly say it is selective listening as are my Bach and Beethoven tapes. Perhaps this will get a little more play than those because of the addition of Yngwie's shredding guitar solos over the orchestration, but if you are looking for another Yngwie heavy metal platter, it won't be found here. Still, some guitar fans and those seeking a refreshing change will dig this disc as I do. Spitfire re-issued this disc in the U.S. but unfortunately with far inferior artwork, although the sound quality is equal to that of the imports.
Yngwie J. Malmsteen - Alchemy (Spitfire) 1999
Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force - War to End All Wars (Spitfire) 2000
1. "Prophet Of Doom"
Hmmm, not sure why Yngwie has gone back to the Rising Force moniker as his supporting players include vocalist Mark Boals, keyboardist Mats Olausson, and drummer John Macaluso, none of whom were part of the original Rising Force. Perhaps the reason for the return back to the name is because "War to End All Wars" is made up of the same strength, aggression, passion and neo-classical heavy metal that those earlier classics were made of. "War to End All Wars" is packed with Yngwie's jaw-dropping, lightning-fast guitar shredding. The three instrumentals alone are worth the price of admission. The other songs are excellent as well, but to be quite frank, who listens to Yngwie for vocals? Mark Boals is a strong vocalist with a somewhat operatic voice and does add a flare to the songs. One song worth mentioning is "Wild One" which is a speed metal number with lyrics that recall past Malmsteen song titles. Since Malmsteen is such a big Ritchie Blackmore, fan, I assumed that the U.S. bonus track "Black Sheep of the Family" was a Rainbow cover, but it's not. Rather, what we are given is a reggae tinged jam, which sits kind of strange in the midst of all the neo-classical based songs. The only real negative I have to say about this disc is the production isn't Yngwie's best. The overall mix is a bit bassy, compared to other discs on my stereo. Picked up this disc for a mere $7.99.
Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force - Attack!! (SPV) 2002
1. "Razor Eater"
Yet another stellar Rising Force efforts from Yngwie. Of course, as with "War to End All Wars" the name does not mean that there are any original members with Yngwie, but that the sound returns to the neo-classical stylings of the first few Yngwie albums. The good thing about dealing with an egomaniac like Yngwie is that we don't have to worry about him following some stupid music trends. Yngwie continues to sound like Yngwie without adding in any elements of popular bands from the time. There are three excellent instrumentals on this disc, all of which are short but also interesting enough to hold my attention. The vocals, this time 'round, are by Dougie White who has an amazing similarity to first Rising Force vocalist Jeff Scott Soto. He voice has a rough quality to it, while at the same time being very melodic. Perhaps one of the biggest surprise songs on this disc is "Freedom Isn't Free", a song sung by Ygnwie himself. This particular song is very much inspired by Uli Jon Roth (ex-Scorpions). Even the vocals have that quality to them, making me check the booklet to see if Uli was listed as a guest musician on this disc, which he is not. The production on "Attack!" is a bit better than "War to End All Wars" as well, although I really think Yngwie might be better of if he had someone other than himself produce. Still, I can't see any Yngwie fan being disappointed with this release, I know I am not.
Yngwie J. Malmsteen - Unleash The Fury (Spitfire) 2005
1. "Locked & Loaded"
I have listened to this new Malmsteen album several times before writing anything about it. What can I say? Malmsteen is Malmsteen, you either like him or you don't. Malmsteen and company basically bring about the same high quality, neo-classical heavy metal that they do on just about every other album. Vocals are once again by Dougie White who gives a more than commendable performance. Of course, there can only be one alpha-male here, and we all know that's Yngwie. There is no denying the he is a virtuosity on guitar, making runs up and down the guitar neck that send most guitarist running for the hills. Of course, that is why we all listen to Ynqwie, right? Yngwie rules!
1. "Death Dealer" (5:26)
2. "Damnation Game" (5:04)
3. "Live to Fight (Another Day)" (6:13)
4. "Red Devil" (4:07
5. "Four Horsemen (Of The Apocalypse)" (5:23)
6. "Priest of the Unholy" (6:47)
7. "Be Careful What You Wish For" (5:29)
8. "Caprici di Diablo" [instrumental] (4:28
9. "Lament" (4:31)
10. "Magic City" (7:26)
11. "Eleventh Hour" (8:03)
12. "Heavy Heart" (5:58)
The prodigy of Uli Roth and Ritchie Blackmore and the master of neo-classical wank returns with his first studio album since 2005. This time around Yngwie has ex-Judas Priest/Iced Earth screamer Tim "Ripper" Owens behind the mic. Yngwie is a rather predictable artist. You pretty much know what you are going to get with each and every album, with the possible exception of his excursions into classical music. With "Perpetual Flame" Yngwie delivers exactly what any fan would want, neo-classical heavy metal with fast, fluid guitar solos.
Having been a fan of Yngwie since his Steeler and Alcatrazz days, I purchased nearly every CD he's released and have been quite satisfied. However, on more recent releases such as "Attack!!" and "Unleash the Fury" I found myself becoming disinterested rather quickly. Once the excitement of a new Yngwie album faded, I rarely revisited those album. However, with "Perpetual Flame" I found myself coming back quite often, even after several listens. "Red Devil" is the song that really peaked my interest. The song has a great hook and the lyrics to this one really captured me as I was driving down the road in my bright red Mustang. I know the song is about a Yngwie's red Ferrari, but the lyrics worked for me driving that Mustang down the road as well.
On the first couple spins I thought that perhaps Tim Owens' vocals seemed a bit out of place the more I listened, the more I liked it. Yngwie seems to have returned to a heavier, more aggressive sound with "Perpetual Flame" and v'oice works well on these tracks. "Priest of the Unholy", "Death Dealer" and "Four Horsemen" are all fairly fast and heavy songs. "Priest of the Unholy" is also one of the standout cuts on the album. The song has a slow groove to it, but is peppered with some smoking lead work. Ripper simply makes this song his own. The song ends with a drawn out solo section. "Magic City" is another standout cut. This song is a slow, melodic number and features Yngwie on lead vocals. Much like Uli Roth, I've never thought of Yngwie as much of a vocalist, but his mid-range, bluesy voice works on this song.
I'd like to credit Owens with sparking a new flame in Yngwie, but frankly it seems that Yngwie wrote all of this album without the help of Tim at all. However, his voice does indeed give spark to these songs. His range and power simply cannot be denied. Couple with some new musical ideas and Yngwie's skillful leads, "Perpetual Flame" is one of the best from Malmsteen in years.