YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN — Rising Force (review)

YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN — Rising Force album cover Album · 1984 · Neoclassical metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Far beyond...

Heavily inspired by Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow, Brian May of Queen, Randy Rhoads of Ozzy Osbourne and Steve Hackett of Genesis as well as Classical music composers, in particular violinist Niccolò Paganini, Yngwie Malmsteen created Neo-Classical Metal with this impressive debut. It is useless to comment on Malmsteen's playing skills as they are widely known and rarely contested, but the equally impressive skills of keyboardist Jens Johansson is not often emphasized. The rest of the band consists of Jethro Tull drummer Barriemore Barlow and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto. However, the music on this album is mostly instrumental.

Though heavily skilled on their respective instruments, instrumental skill is not the whole picture. The quality of the compositions is always the most important aspect of any music and while many, if not most, of Malmsteen’s other albums are lacking in that department, not so here. This debut album brings together some of his very best compositions and there is not a moment of thoughtless guitar shredding without melody and structure. All the songs are memorable which is not easy to achieve considering that this is mostly instrumental music.

The guitar and keyboard duels of Yngwie and Jens Johansson are great and while many bands did similar things in the 70’s (Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord in Deep Purple and Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman in Yes, for example), nothing of this intensity and speed had been done before (not to my knowledge, anyway). But these solos are well integrated into the overall compositions and they do not come across as overdone. The use of acoustic guitar, piano and harpsichord gives the music a Classical feel and the arrangements resemble those of Classical Symphonic music, but all in a traditional Metal framework.

This groundbreaking and highly influential album is essential listening! Sadly, Malmsteen would never again make anything as great as this.
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