Review

YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Rising Force

Album · 1984 · Neoclassical metal
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4/5 ·
Warthur
It's rare that you can point to a specific artist and album and say that here, right at that moment, is where a particular musical subgenre got its start, but you absolutely can with neoclassical metal - Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force album is patient zero for this high-technicality, classical-influenced, guitar-worshipping brand of metal.

This style has been derided from time to time as being nothing more than empty technical showboating, exacerbated by the fact that whereas progressive metal (which also gets accused of such showboating from time to time) at least tends to put a spotlight on a range of different instrumentalists, your typical neoclassical metal act is essentially a virtuoso guitarist and a group of backing musicians who are there to help the guitarist look good. Whether or not you consider that stereotype to be an outrageous slur on the scene or a perceptive assessment of some of its trends, you can't say that Malmsteen hasn't contributed to that image just a little, repeating his formula over sufficient albums that it's become an overworked, tired-out cliche.

It would be unfair, however, to tarnish this excellent debut album with that brush. The difference between this and so much of Malmsteen's subsequent discography is that, as a result of coming out first, it wasn't laden down with the expectations people had placed on Malmsteen's work. The general compositional approach hadn't yet ossified into a formula from which albums could be churned out by rote, and Malmsteen hadn't yet fallen into the trap of pandering more and more to fan expectations and believing more and more in his own hype, until his music became an overwrought caricature of itself.

Instead, what you get here is some dynamite classically-influenced heavy metal, building on a foundation reminiscent of early Queen (especially when Jeff Scott Soto's vocals come in) and adding intricate classically-inspired guitar work from Malmsteen himself. The end result is an electrifying performance which not only provides an exceptional showcase for Malmsteen's guitar skills, but is also a downright entertaining album in its own right. Don't hold Malmsteen's late-career turkeys against him and listen with an open mind.
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Unitron wrote:
8 days ago
Yeah, I've never heard any Queen influence in Malmsteen's career. Anyways, this is a masterpiece and I always recommend this album to fans of classical music as a great starting point for getting into metal.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
8 days ago
Oh, i agree that it's the first bona fide neoclassical release. I was more commenting on it owes more to Deep Purple and Ozzy than Queen. Just my perspective. I like this first album a lot myself but find Yngwie a pompous ass and pretty boring after. There are sooooo many other guitarists i'd rather worship :P
UMUR wrote:
9 days ago
Yeah but never to the point of this release. I agree with Warthur here. This is also the first example of a pure neo-classional heavy metal release that I can think of, and hell yeah it´s a pretty damn great album too.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
9 days ago
Actually it's a direct descended of Ritchie Blackmore's playing style which Randy Rhoads perfected with Ozzy. The two albums he played on are practically neoclassical themselves although they usually get lumped into hard rock or trad metal

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