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Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force : Rising Force
(Polydor - 1984)
Category : none
4,33 stars

The very mention of the name Yngwie Malmsteen should be enough to have any rock fan jumping out of the window, for was he not one of the inventors of that guitar abuse called "shredding"? For the uninitiated, shredding simple means that the guitarist shows off his amazing technical playing abilities via intricate and lightning fast guitar passages. The downside of putting such emphasis on guitar techniqe however was that Yngwie, and all the shredders that followed in his wake, tended to overlook the importance of writing good songs. The result would often be interesting to guitar freaks, but not to the rest of the world's population.

Not so on this debut however. Malmsteen gathered some very talented band members around him and came up with one of the rare "Shredland" examples, where the songs are as strong as the playing. Apart from that it's also important for a second reason as it's an early, maybe even the earliest, example of a new Heavy Metal subgenre called 'Neo-Classical Metal' which combines Heavy Metal riffs with certain style elements from Classical composers such as Mozart, Johan Sebastian Bach and Beethoven (although it's especially the spirit of Paganini, one of Malmsteen's favourite composers and musicians, that shimmers through in this case).

The music on Rising Force can be described best as a pumped up version of Rainbow, with lots of fast and long instrumental passages that serve as a background for Malmsteen's amazing guitar solo's. 'Little Savage' especially is an instrumental that you can listen to without going "yawn" after a few minutes. It's composed intelligently, with a few different themes that follow each other in a natural way. But 'Evil Eye' is even better, even more elaborated. If Mozart or Bach were metalheads, this is what their music may have sounded like. But there are "real songs" on the album as well. With vocals, I mean. The lyrics are mostly Fantasy stuff, yet it's not the lyrics that count, but the vocal melodies carrying them and these are more than decent. 'Now Your ships are burned' is but one example of such a song.

In short, there isn't really much negative I can say about this album, even though I'd want to. It may still be a bit too much for the regular Rock fan. But for metalheads who had already grown accustomed to technically skilled guitarists like Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads, it was but a small step.

Unfortunately Malmsteen would continue to release more albums of just the same, while his song writing muscle would gradually start to cramp under the weight of his ego. But at least on this debut the song writing and the vision behind it all still equalled his narcissism. So, if you have only heard his later work, and you thought it was pompous and soulless, take some time to rediscover the man's earlier stuff. You might be pleasantly surprised.


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