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Not quite Rising Force, but that's not fair! - 95%

judasismyguide, December 7th, 2007

Yes, you may need to actually have an interest in classical music to fully enjoy and appreciate this album (although since I do have an interest I can't vouch for both sides, but it seems that may be the case with other feedback I've heard). That being said I think this is a perfect marriage between the worlds of classical music and neo-classical shredding, which Malmsteen has always been the master of.

A lot of the knocks against Malmsteen have been that he plays with no emotion or that his albums are just mindless shredding, which I just can't see. The vast majority of his work is very fast, but he never sacrifices the melody or structure of his songs to simply masturbate with his guitar. The backing music is usually underrated, and this is a perfect example of what's behind his guitar being tremendous. The New Japan Philharmonic plays with him, and they complement each other beautifully. Just as many other metal greats have done in the past (as well as Malmsteen), twin guitar harmonies have become standard, but on this release an entire orchestra is replacing the other guitar. The guitar runs he does in this Concerto Suite are amazing, and the violins, french horns and others follow him note for note in many instances which emotes a very full sound. Look at "Fugue," and you see that while not matching Malmsteen note for note, the orchestra trades off with him on certain riffs going back and forth with different melodies that accent each other perfectly.

There's never a moment to get bored with on this album. Every song has a wonderful flow to it and a brand new catchy melody that seems to sprout from something you've heard earlier on the album. The more listens you give this album, the more each track stands out on its own, but their similarities give this album a great cohesiveness.

And remember that the album is called Concerto Suite for "Electric Guitar" and Orchestra, so it's hard for me to grasp the gripes about Malmsteen being front and center throughout every piece. He wrote it all, he can play it all, and he should be rewarded for that. He takes far too much crap for being an ego-maniacal jerkoff as if that's a negative in his music. There's no doubt in my mind that he's exactly that, but to me that's exactly what an ideal rock star should be, someone that wants the spotlight and works hard to get it. When you listen to this album, remember you don't have to put up with the guy while you do it, you only have to soak in his genius.