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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.

Customer Reviews

starting to be a joke.

all i can think of is SPINAL TAP.....and not in a good way.

A- / B+ songs, C- mastering.

I hear Yngwie on this new record with some new melodies and hooks which is nice, even if it is against a backdrop of more of the same lead+fill wise. That's old news, you either love him for sticking to his guns or hate him for not evolving past them.

What's amazing to me is that a musician with his ears can consistently put out recordings with such widely varying levels of mastering quality. Are the monitors in his studio off? Is he failing to test the mastering in a variety of sonic environments, the way a programmer would test web designs against different browsers? I find Yngwie's last set of albums going back to the reunion with Mark Boals to be WAY on the low end, much too muddy and difficult to wade through while trying to enjoy the guitar tone, etc.

He has received much grief and criticism for this, so I am not interested in belaying the point. The last record with Ripper was a BIG improvement, clear and crisp, but this seems to be a step backwards mastering-wise. It is still better than the Boals records, though. Luckily, the songwriting is keeping my interest even if the lyrics and leads are like old shoes: comfortable but not terribly attractive anymore.

I will continue to listen and enjoy these songs. I think Ripper is actually a good match for Yngwie, though I would absolutely love to hear Jorn sing with him.

Waste of time.

This is just a thrown together collection of songs that were not good enough to be on the last album he did with Tim "Ripper" Owens. The guitar playing is just fast with no feeling in it what so ever. The same licks over and over and the same high note over and over. I got bored after the second song and had heard everything he was going to play on the rest of the cd by that time as well. He is just not inspiring anymore it's just a sad attempt to stay in the limelight but he hasn't been in that since the 80's. Do yourself a favor and just go listen tot he first 2 albums he made and forget this waste if time.


Born: June 30, 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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