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Solid, but not quite his Magnum Opus - 89%

hells_unicorn, February 8th, 2007

It can be stated plainly that the mid-90s were a terrible period, not merely for Yngwie, but for every guitar player who refused to conform to the conventional wisdom of the time that talent was a thing of the past. But unlike some of the bands out there who thought it prudent to either water down their solos (*cough* Motley Crue) or try to marry shredding with the style of the time (*cough* Dokken), Yngwie just said fuck it and continued playing the way he always plays, from the heart, without any regard for what anything anyone, sometimes even his own fan base thought. The charge leveled against Yngwie’s early to mid-90s material is that there was no evolution in his sound, granted, many of the same morons who said this thought Kurt Cobain was an innovator. Hell, most of the critics who were controlling the wave of opinion at this point in history probably thought Jethro Tull was one of the Beverly Hillbillies.

But I digress; the music on here is mostly cut from the same tree as what is found on “The Seventh Sign”, although we have some songs on here that reach back to the “Eclipse” and “Fire and Ice” albums. The principle flaw in Magnum Opus (unfortunately it doesn’t quite live up to it’s name) is the drums, which are a tiny bit too high in the mix, yet don’t have the same punch that they did on Seventh Sign and sound almost like a drum machine. Mike Terrana is one of the best in the business and his presence is definitely missed on several of these songs.

Mike Vescera is still belting out the high notes as good as he did on the last album, in addition to providing the cleaner low end stuff on the obligatory ballads. Vocal highlights include the classic opening track “Vengeance”, which rivals the genius that was on display during “Never Die”. “Fire in the sky” and “Voodoo” also have excellent vocal deliveries, not to mention being solid songs in themselves with plenty of guitar majesty.

The best songs on here are drawn from a variety of styles, as Yngwie tends to realize a lot of his potential playing over a varied group of tonal devices. “Vengeance” is a solid speed metal song with a nice little Vivaldi inspired classical guitar duet at the beginning. “Amberdawn” is the stand out instrumental on this album and also stands out well amongst the large collection of Instrumentals he has composed over the years, some of which do tend to run together. “Time will tell” is another experiment with his new love for the sitar, but also includes some nice eastern inspired riffs.

To the fan of shred in general and the Malmsteen fan in particular, this is one of the better works that Yngwie put together in the 90s. It’s not quite up to part with its predecessor, nor does it quite kick ass as much as “Alchemy” and “Facing the Animal”, but it is a good buy if you already have those albums and want to add more to your collection of quality music. It definitely makes a statement to his detractors who were doing their best to remove him from the music scene in the 90s, mostly touching upon the futility of such a venture. To put it in full context I will quote the two warring factions of this era.

Kurt Cobain’s followers: “Metal is Dead”
Heavy Metal: “Kurt Cobain is Dead”