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Often dismissed as being all flash and no flair, Yngwie has become quite apt at making his critics look like morons. Whenever some hipster or burnt out adherent to post-Grunge decrepitude gets high and mighty about the so called value of good songwriting and how Malmsteen never understood it, a quick visit to albums such as “Marching Out”, “Odyssey” and “The Seventh Sign”, among others, reveals such buffoonery as being an outright confession of proud ignorance. But to be fair, within his lengthy back catalog, there is a good amount of shifting back and forth between a focus on songwriting and one on elaborate lead playing. For much of his later albums after “Alchemy”, the focus has been pretty heavily on expanding the standards first set on “Rising Force”, with lengthy instrumentals, but within the format of still putting out a plurality of songs rather than instrumentals, thus resulting in a very solo heavy and vocal light approach. “Perpetual Flame” is a step back towards a measured approach to both, fueled most likely by his exceptional new vocalist.
In a manner of speaking, Tim Owens really makes this album, in spite of his role as vocalist alone. His uncanny ability to be a formidable force as a lone voice, coupled with his great adaptability in a multi-tracked chorus approach, put him in a realm quite different than previous vocalists in Yngwie’s camp. Others like Mark Boals, Joe Lynn Turner and Doogie White were pretty well capable at doing harmonically rich choruses; while Michael Vescera, Jeff Scott Soto and Mats Leven had a much more aggressive approach that was conducive to going it alone, but Owens proves able to handle both roles equally well, and often outclasses some of the others in their own areas. This is established not simply through a measured performance throughout the entire album, but immediately during the highly memorable, high octane, metallic ass kicking opening song otherwise known as “Death Dealer”. The intro is a typical baroque chord progression as Yngwie often delivers, but good old Ripper adds this majestic edge to an otherwise cliché section and everything just falls perfectly into place as the song accelerates into a beautiful marriage of J.S. Bach and Judas Priest.
In many ways, “Perpetual Flame” is less a new direction for Malmsteen than it is a reorganization of a working formula. Many of these songs are loaded with familiar themes, varied slightly from various past efforts, in much the same way that AC/DC evolved their sound during the transition from the Bon Scott era to the Brian Johnson one. Musically songs like “Damnation Game”, “Red Devil” and “Be Careful What You Wish For” have some riffs that ring really familiar to anyone whose heard any albums from this outfit from between 1994-2005. But the difference lay chiefly in a stellar vocal performance, a more compact and melodic approach to soloing that hearkens back to the glory days of the 80s, and a much cleaner production that departs from the modern, somewhat sloppy mixing jobs that permeated every album in the 2000s before this. This is particularly noticeable on slower, heavier songs such as “Four Horsemen (Of The Apocalypse)” where the droning low guitar riff whacks right through the dense atmospheric keyboards in a way that that hasn’t been heard since “Magnum Opus”. In fact, the only area where this album retains anything from last two albums is the slower rocking “Magic City”, which heavily resembles the bluesy and attitude drenched “Cherokee Warrior”, one of the stronger songs off of “Unleash The Fury”.
Although there hasn’t been too many slip ups in Yngwie’s near 3 decade history, this definitely showcases an outfit that is hungry to regain grounds that haven’t been explored in quite a while. The choice of Owens was the perfect choice, given the large array of similar sounding vocalists in Malmsteen’s past and the need for a fresh new sound, and it shines through every time Ripper puts his mouth to the microphone. The only outright negative aspect of this album is that, given the frequency in which vocalists tend to come and go in this fold, the expectations have been set high for the next studio offering. But regardless of future outcomes, this is a fine addition to Yngwie’s history and one that any fan of his brand of speed shredding should not be without.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on May 23, 2010.
I’ll be the first to admit that I purchased guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen’s newest studio album to make sure vocalist Tim “The Ripper” Owens was in good hands after his sudden departure from Iced Earth at the end of 2007. Fortunately, I was most pleasantly surprised by this effort and can safely say that this may be one of the best metal albums of 2008!
What separates this album from most of Malmsteen’s previous efforts is how it seems to place a greater emphasis on the actual songwriting rather than on the usual guitar wankery that most listeners have come to expect. Each song seems to have been carefully constructed and packed with memorable hooks in addition to supreme technicality. Ripping power metal anthems such as "Death Dealer" and "Four Horsemen (of the Apocalypse)" provide powerful guitar lines and inspiring choruses, dark tracks such as "Live to Fight (Another Day)" and "Eleventh Hour" provide strong mid-tempo riffs and more aggressive vocals, and the more accessible "Red Devil" sounds like something Judas Priest would’ve done back in the early 80’s. Even the instrumental tracks like "Caprici Di Diablo" manage to stay coherent in their hard-to-play exercises.
Another obvious factor that makes this album stand out is the inclusion of Owens on lead vocals. With all due respect to guys like Joe Lynn Turner and Jeff Scott Soto, Owens is the strongest singer that Malmsteen has ever gotten a hold of. His range is shown off almost as often as the guitar playing (almost) and he manages to inject healthy amounts of aggression that couldn’t have been provided by any of his predecessors. Also worth noting is the performance of former Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian. He rarely overpowers the guitars or vocals but he does provide some atmospheric backing on the darker songs such as "Live To Fight (Another Day)."
So what are some of the album’s flaws? The first thing that comes to mind is the production; it is unsurprisingly dominated by the guitar playing and tends to drown the vocals out at times, leading to a performance that isn’t as strongly felt as in Owens’ previous bands. Another flaw is the ballad "Magic City." It doesn’t seem to stand up the rest of the songs on here and probably would’ve been better if Malmsteen didn’t sing lead vocals on it. The album may also be a little too technical for some listeners to handle, but that’s rather obvious at this point. It is Malmsteen we’re talking about, after all...
All in all, it is easily in the top 5 of 2008 and worth checking out for fans of Tim Owens and neo-classical power metal in general.
1) Excellent band performance, particularly lead vocals and guitar.
2) Great song variety and accessible structures
3) Strong displays of technical ability
1) Unbalanced production
2) "Magic City" could’ve been better
3) Perhaps a little too technical for some
My Current Favorites:
"Death Dealer," "Damnation Game," "Live to Fight (Another Day)," "Red Devil," and "Four Horsemen (of the Apocalypse)"
To tell you, the reader, the honest truth, I didn't have high expectations for this album. That it exceeded my expectations isn't necessarily a compliment, though it is indeed a good album, as my 83 would suggest. Nevertheless, judging by Yngwie's recent history, there was a good chance Perpetual Flame would reek just the same as Unleash the Fury and Attack! did before it.
Yngwie proved me wrong. He proved us all wrong. Present in Perpetual Flame is a rejuvination not heard for at least a decade, and a lot of new musical ideas complemented by a new keyboardist, and more importantly, a new singer. Yes, Tim "Ripper" Owens, of Judas Priest and Iced Earth fame, brings new life to the Rising Force. His exquisite combination of range, power, and melodiousness is exactly what the doctor ordered for the general malaise that had been plaguing Yngwie for quite some time. Because Owens' voice can handle more challenging melodies, Yngwie had a wider range of musical options, and it shows. Mind you, the Ripper can easily handle more aggressive climes, and he still comes off sounding badass as ever.
However, there is much more rebirth in the world of Malmsteen. Both the production and the performances are cleaner, faster, and, well, better than previous efforts. As well, the songwriting (aided by the new keyboardist) is much more original than anything we've seen out of him since The Seventh Sign, and as a plus, we have a greater quantity of fast songs here. Of course, keep in mind that Yngwie is an "old dog", and you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Don't think for a second that this is anywhere near his best effort, because this isn't, nor is it a return to the glory days. However, it is a surprising comeback, and it isn't guilty of the "every song sounds the same" that everything he made since Facing the Animal had been guilty of. I'd recommend you add this to your collection, it's one of his better albums.
When I first tried to write a review for this album I was so excited I did a really poor job out of it. That's how good I think Perpetual Flame is. I even dare to say it is one of the best metal releases of 2008.
I was never a big fan of Yngwie's to be honest. I was initially interested in his early works when I was a teenager and listened to his work with Steeler and his first two albums. After that it got a little too predictable and repetitive to me, as album after album presented just about more of the same: amazing guitar playing and not very amazing songs.
Time went by and a few years ago I decided to give him another chance, but realized what the problem was, at least for me: the vocals and the lack of aggression in his songs altogether. It led me to believe Yngwie would never manage to capture the same feeling from his early works, one which influenced so many bands that came afterwards.
Well, guess what? He did it. Tim Owens was the man for the job, and he puts on a show song after song, displaying incredible range, power and aggression as he sings of battles and the devil and everything else that makes true metal so irresistible.
Death Dealer opens it up with hellish screams and an amazing intro, the first of three songs ( followed by Damnation Game and Live to Fight) that simply kick you in the face and put a smile on your lips, as they showcase such a well balanced mix of a power and traditional heavy metal feel.
Red Devil has a more hard rock oriented feel, and it's almost funny to listen to Owens trying to make his vocal style fit that genre, but it works somehow, before bringing pure unadulterated metal back in the next three songs. I don't know if I should say this, but listening to this album made me think that this is what Judas Priest should have released this year, and not that dreadful Nostradamus!
Yngwie's guitar playing is extremely tasteful and well dosed in all the songs that have vocals, something that was considered a flaw is his previous works. To make sure everybody's happy though, the man added some instrumentals where he just blows us all away as usual. The drums and bass are also above standard in terms of Malmsteens albums, with nice double bass passages and an always present bass keeping things tight and heavy.
With so many disappointments and weak releases this year, I was more than surprised by this album, and would go as far as recommending it even to those who usually frown at this type of music.
We all know Yngwie Malmsteen is a great guitar player, he's proved that. His last album "Unleash the Fury" was a bit of a disappointment to many of his fans. The lead singer Doogie White was let go, so Malmsteen needed to find a replacement. Well, he found a good one. Ex-Iced Earth front man Tim "Ripper" Owens was announced to perform on his upcoming album. "Perpetual Flame" has been unleashed; does it deliver what fans have wanted?
Well, yes, it does. This is a very solid record. Tim's voice is amazing here, this works perfectly. The opener "Death Dealer" proves that. A cool riff from Malmsteen starts the song, which leads to Owens piercing voice destroying the microphone. The song is well written with nice lyrics and a great solo delivered by Malmsteen. I find it funny that for once, Malmsteen isn't the best thing on this album, Owens is. Which leads to my next point. We all know Malmsteen is a great player, hell, a fantastic one. So do we really need the three instrumentals? Does he have to prove that point again? At least half of the album wasn't just pure instrumentals. You have an amazing singer; use him! This is an easy thing to ignore, because the songs themselves are good. Yugwie's playing is as good as ever. Patrik Johansson is a good drummer, who of course is completely ignored. He defiantly deserves credit for his good performance. Bjorn Englen's bass playing is also performed well, and it's surprisingly loud on this record. It doesn't drown anything, but it's actually noticeable, which is surprising. The instrumentals here aren't anything you'll find surprising. Just Malmsteen doing his everyday shredding, it's a cool listen at first but it becomes dull over time. The songs with Ripper singing on them are quite a joy. I say that because Malmsteen provides his vocals on the song "Magic City," which is far from magical. The riff itself is boring and his vocals are stale. Nevertheless it isn't a horrible song. "Four Horseman (Of the Apocalypse), "Priest of the Unholy," and "Damnation Game" is all really interesting songs with amazing talent.
I must say I'm not really surprised this was good. I mean, Tim Owens shines here; it's quite amazing how he can switch from band to band and mold with their sound. Yngwie's playing is as solid as ever, no matter what you're opinion of him is. If you're a follower of Tim Owens, you should check this out. It's a good listen. To all the Malmsteen fans this is another solid record to add to your collection.
With the ousting of Doogie White from Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, in came Tim "The Ripper" Owens who was just booted from Iced Earth. With his latest album, Tim injects new life with Yngwie as there is some very strong song writing on here and always mesmerizing guitar playing from Yngwie, but The Ripper adds dimension to which has been missing from the Rising Force for awhile.
The first thing noticeable is how strong The Ripper's voice is. Letting out a fierce scream and having a strong, controlled vocal delivery in the fast paced "Death Dealer." This album also has a power metal feel to it. There are big, momentous chorouses with Owens usually belting out high notes and showcasing his vocal talent.
Yngwie Malmsteen has an utter great performance on this album. His playing on this album seems to be more controlled. He isn't just totally wanking it, as his solos are well defined and they are not overlong to short. Songs like "Red Devil," "Four Horseman (Of the Apocalypse)," and "Eleventh Hour" exemplify this point. He even shows his vocal ability on "Magic City", which is a slow, melodic guitar performance Yngwie. It's nothing spectacular, but it's a bit enjoyable.
Not everything is great on here however as there are a couple of songs that just plain stink. "Damnation Game" has a riff similiar to "I'll See the Light Tonight". I think Yngwie can be a little more original than that as when I immediately heard the song come on, that's what it sounded like. It wasn't even disguised as something else. It seems like he just pasted new lyrics to the song and gave it a new title. There is a worthless ballad on here called "Live to Fight (Another Day)" which is dull and has no inspiration.
On the other hand, the instrumentals on here are great. There is no blind guitar playing to be found surprisingly, but stylized guitar parts featured as there is a nice balance of melody and speed found on them. "Four Horseman (Of the Apocalypse) just might be the best song on here because it utilizes the talents on here perfectly and the pounding guitar riff allows The Ripper's voice to shine and then picking up in the solo.
All in all, this album is definitly worth picking up. Tim Owens never seems to be trying to hard on this album as he fits right in fusing great voice control and delivering a performance that amps this album. Yngwie still plays awesome as always and it is defitnitly worth picking up. Buy it. Like it. Love it.