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Album Review

Yngwie Malmsteen may very well be the Buddy Rich of heavy metal guitar. In the jazz world, Rich was as famous (or infamous) for his temper tantrums and boorish behavior as he was for his amazing technical prowess as a drummer; Malmsteen, similarly, has been called arrogant and demanding on more than a few occasions, but whatever one thinks of jim as a person, there is no denying that he is a serious heavyweight when it comes to chops, virtuosity, and technique. If one had to compile a list of the most technically proficient metal and hard rock guitarists who emerged in the ‘80s, Malmsteen would easily be in the top five. However, technique alone doesn't necessarily make for great metal, and Malmsteen has released his share of uneven albums over the years. But Relentless, it turns out, is one of the Swedish axeman's more consistent efforts. Combine an abundance of excellent writing with the fact that singer Tim "Ripper" Owens (of Judas Priest, Iced Earth, and Charred Walls of the Damned fame) is prominently featured, and you have a generally rewarding example of Malmsteen in the 21st century. Owens is in fine form on "Caged Animal," "Critical Mass," "Blinded," "Tide of Desire," "Empty Within," and "Axe to Grind," all of which are melodic but forceful power metal stompers in the old-school Judas Priest/Iron Maiden/Ronnie James Dio tradition. But this 2010 release has its share of instrumentals as well, and Malmsteen has plenty of room to shred on classical-influenced instrumentals such as "Shot Across the Bow," "Arpeggios from Hell," "Into Valhalla," and "Knight of the Vasa Order." The only vocal track that doesn't feature Owens is "Look at You Now"; Malmsteen provides the lead vocals on that tune, reminding us that Owens is a much better singer. But "Look At You Now" is the only real misstep on an album that, for the most part, unleashes the f*****g fury in terms of both shredding and songwriting.


Born: 30 June 1963 in Stockholm, Sweden

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Yngwie Malmsteen is arguably the most technically accomplished hard rock guitarist to emerge during the '80s. Combining a dazzling technique honed over years of obsessive practice with a love for such classical composers as Bach, Beethoven, and Paganini, Malmsteen's distinctively Baroque, gothic compositional style and lightning-fast arpeggiated solos rewrote the book on heavy metal guitar. His largely instrumental debut album, Rising Force, immediately upped the ante for aspiring hard rock guitarists...
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