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When I picked up this, my first Yngwie album, I was quite impressed for a long while. Yes, the lead guitar was fast, lengthy, neo-classical insanity making it clear that Yngwie is out once more to impress and awe with his guitar acrobatics. My only other experience with the man has been the self titled Rising Force album from way back in 1984. And all things considered, that is a much better effort, being that Yngwie's strength as an instrumentalist far outweighs his abilities as a songwriter. Whereas he only wrote two "songs" for that album, the majority of this album is made up of such works. Picking a vocalist who hits a note so high in first proper song "Leonardo" that I wouldn't be surprised if his balls exploded from it. While maybe somewhat cool with amusing overtones when my ears were fresh to this album, I now wince each time I hear it. I also find I scanned this album for the riffs that I remember caught me when I last listened to it instead of sitting through each song to reach the two + minutes of guitar show off in the middle.
Regardless, the album begins strongly with an interesting instrumental "Blitzkrieg" which is once again a 4 minute display of speed and technique. It works well to kick things off having the man doing what he does best at his best. The songs now shift in with their usual problems still there from the polar opposite self titled album. The riffs are somewhat catchy and majestic power metal constructions, but at the same time just have an empty feel as if they're just there because the structure of a song demands it, and then quickly make way for the extended noodling centre of each song. Which leaves the whole thing with a very dry and unispired feel, while catchy enough at first, is quick to start wearing down. The more memorable songs on here include: "Leonardo", "The Stand" and "Legion of the Damned", but even for those memorable riffs and solo sections, those parts still feel very disjointed. "Leonardo" in particular also feels overlong when it comes down to it. There are some more instrumentals to break up the action here and there, with the unsurprisingly bluesy "Blue" taking on that role during the middle of the album. The album also comes to a close with an instrumental trilogy, which survives fine for the first two parts working once again in Yngwie's favour. But with the last part, it feels like it should just explode into more untamed neo-classical stylings any second but instead never comes to fruition and just well, ends!
This was an album I was initially very fond of and played a lot, but as I did so it started to reveal its flaws slowly until I can't help but give a pretty disappointing review now. Nevertheless, as the instrumental neo-classical guitar rock Yngwie is famed for is still here and in fine form, this album does have some pretty high moments, but for those craving more, the self titled Rising Force album is the place to go for that.