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Yngwie is probably the most criticized shredder out of all those crazy fellows who play very fast. Malmsteen is very criticized because he "doesn't play with any feeling" and "uses the same scales all over again". Well, maybe he does overuse the A Minor Harmonic at times, but at least in this album, being his first, it's not as noticeable. This was one of the first proper neo-classical metal or shred albums ever; and I believe that it hasn't been dethroned, there are moments of genius everywhere, sandwiched between moments of "fuck how is that humanly possible" virtuosity. 'Rising Force' marks the beginning of the Swedish shredder's career, and it also inspired a LOT of people to pick up their guitars and burn the frets with some shred (well at least it inspired me!).
Yes, this is wankery; complete and pure guitar wankery, but even the most famous classical music symphonies are filled with wankery too! And since Yngwie's instrument is an electric guitar, he has some disadvantage in a way, since you can't put dynamics in a song with an electric instrument as much as somebody with a violin would. We have 'Black Star', which starts with an acoustic guitar, and proves that there are dynamics after all, the little harmonics at the end are a very good example of this. But even then, after the distortion kicks in, he uses a little effect called a Bass Pedal, which Malmsteen uses in almost every album; it's a good way to make the song sound softer, without turning the distortion off.
Everything sounds harmonious, even though the bass and drums don't really do nothing but give a little punch to the songs at times, like a very fast and shreddy bass solo a little before the end of 'Evil Eye', and there's also another one in the middle of 'Now Your Ships Are Burned'. The guitar solos are fucking amazing. There's no other way to say it; Yngwie can shred and there's no denying that, and I would have wished that instead of doing the two pointless vox tracks, he should have just kept the whole album instrumental, and with non-stopping shredding; that's what he's good at. 'Now Your Ships Are Burned' starts with a really cool intro, but the singing is not necessary at all, Malmsteen just plays the same notes the vocals hit, Yngwie's formula to most songs is to put slow melodic passages, accentuated by fast licks, and 'ostinatos' (repeating a phrase repeatedly in parts of the song) which give that feeling of classical music, since this one makes use of ostinatos as well.
The first time I heard 'Rising Force', I liked it; but not enough to be a classic which I hear several times a month. You must let it grow on you, pay attention to every note (and there's a shitload of those!), stay focused on the epic melodies instead of the shreddy parts, since one thing leads to the other, the most obvious example I can think of is 'Far Beyond the Sun', listen to the melody at 2:04, and allow yourself to be moved by the faster parts, while the leads kick in. The sound of the guitar solos is very clean, there are no mistakes or bum notes, it almost sounds like Yngwie is using legato all the time, even when hes picking notes. But 'Far Beyond the Sun' also has that really cool keyboard/guitar trade off solo; Jens Johansson provides some really interesting stuff, but it's kinda bad since he's not used a lot (yeah, that costs this album some points).
But the best track in here isn't 'Far Beyond the Sun', even though I just praised it like if it was some kind of deity or something. It starts loud, with power chords and drum fills; then it becomes soft, elegant and filled with more emotions than a bipolar clown. I'm talking about 'Icarus' Dream Suite Op. 4' (I don't know why he puts those 'opuses' on song names, probably to look cool? It doesn't work!). 'Icarus...' has one of the best acoustic passages I have heard, which follow a very slow guitar solo. It's so amazingly epic, just 8 minutes, and he doesn't shred like a madman all the time; in fact, there's just a single shreddy solo in the middle. Most of it is very slow, with acoustic passages with keyboard melodies over them, or very melodic leads like the ostinato at 4:01, which appears several times during the song's length. After this one the solo starts, and I believe that it's just not as majestic as the other parts of 'Icarus...', however, when it ends, theres more acoustic interludes! Then the song just stops, and the best part comes now--6:40, and we get the best acoustic phrase ever! Then you just wait for it: You know it's gonna come, because at 7:02 we have a melodic passage that...Well, if that's not emotion I don't know what the fuck it is. The song fades away softly, with some little acoustic solos that you can't notice very well unless you turn the volume up.
Malmsteen's debut album is nothing short of a masterpiece in the instrumental/neo-classical metal. But to truly appreciate it, you need to stop focusing so much on the shred parts, and more on the slower, more melodic passages. I assure you that if you do it that way, the fast parts will seem to flow easier, and the whole experience will be much better! You need to get this if you like anything related to guitar solos.