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Yngwie has a signature sound, no doubt. In fact, I'd say that he's got the neoclassical sound down to a T. Going further, I'd say he invented it. For some reason, it seems to have sounded better on past albums. There's something missing from this that seems to prevent it from achieving greatness.
In my opinion, Yngwie lost all freshness and relevance by the time Facing the Animal was released. Alchemy was fated to gather dust for this reason, and War to End All Wars is no different. By now, this is basically Yngwie doing what Yngwie does and Mark Boals wailing as Mark Boals has done ever since he lost his voice (I swear his performance was fucktons better on Trilogy). The thing is, at this late point in his career, Yngwie really can't afford to sound this generic. This is the time he should be innovating, as he did on Fire and Ice through Magnum Opus. This isn't the time he should be going back to the sound he had in the 80's, the reason being, quite simply this is not the 80's. As much as I would like more artists to embrace the olskool metal sound, I do not like nostalgia albums made by dinosaurs from the 80's. Unfortunately, that's all this is. Why listen to a fascimile made by musicians who are past their prime when you can just as easily pop in Trilogy or Marching Out?
Another problem is the production. Yngwie tries to add to the olskool vibe by roughening up the production. The thing is, we know he's capable of more, and the production comes across as uneven and lazy, instead of being thought out but ultimately amateur. It really kills the music, much in a way that a 40 some odd year old man who's suffering a mid-life crisis looks incredibly dorky blasting music in his new jeep wearing baggy pants and a backwards cap. In essence, this is what this is; it's Yngwie realizing that he's past his prime, and trying to recapture the glory days of old. Unfortunately, those days are long gone, and he can never recapture the power and majesty of the 4 original rising force albums, whether or not he adds the (pretty much meaningless) addendum of Rising Force to the albums. The only way forward, at this point, is to branch out and innovate, and to grow as an artist. Unfortunately, there's a fat chance of that happening.
The music is pretty easy to describe. If you've heard more than one Yngwie album, you know what this sounds like. If you've heard any of his recent material, you definitely know what this sounds like. If you have every of the albums prior to this, then there's DEFINITELY no reason to get this, because you've heard it already, done much more passionately, performed much better, and with much better vibes. You got your slow songs, you got your fast songs, you got your in between songs, and none of them really deviate from the Yngwie Malmsteen formula. The songwriting isn't terrible, and is actually quite alright, but the thing is, you've heard it already, and by default, done with a lot more originality and freshness. This time, he's just going through the motions, and the result is a rather bland album that is definitely not worth getting. Get the 4 original Rising Force albums if you want blazing neoclassical metal, and get Fire and Ice through Magnum Opus if you want innovation. There's no point, nevertheless, in getting War to End All Wars.
This album had just about everything going for it: great songs, riveting solos, decent vocals, and some of the most passionate lyrics I’ve ever heard out of Yngwie thus far. However, one element of this album all but completely destroys it for the listener, and that is the absolutely abysmal production job on here. The drums are extremely thin and at times so distant sounding that the guitars drown them out. The keyboards are barely audible, which is not a good thing as Mats Olausson is probably my favorite keyboardist to have played in this band. Also, on certain tracks, the lead guitar tracks are so damned loud that they even drown out the vocals.
I have no doubt in my mind that what was done here was 100% intentional, as you don’t put out 10 extremely well produced studio albums and then suddenly forget how it’s done. My working hypothesis is that Yngwie was trying to model the production on this album after a Jimi Hendrix album, as the overwhelming level of guitar sound over other instruments was also a signature of his original guitar hero. However, one will note that although Jimi’s work as a pioneer guitarist are beyond question, much of his original studio material has not aged particularly well with the advent of better recording technology. Furthermore, as Yngwie obviously had access to far superior recording gear at this point in his career, this album can not be judged by the same standard as a Hendrix album.
Be this as it may, we do have some incredible compositional and musical ability on display here. Fast cookers such as “Prophet of Doom”, “Catch 22”, and the title track are loaded with intensity from start to finish. “Prophet of Doom” has a musical quote from a well-known Paganini composition that is rather nicely worked into what is otherwise a classic “Trilogy” era speed metal track. “The Wizard” has the catchiest chorus out of the bunch, in addition to some rather impressive drum work. “Masquerade” also contains some good hooks, although the production is lacking as the vocals are far too quiet and the lead guitar tracks sometimes overpower the singing. “Wild One” is probably the most evenly balanced and well-produced fast song on here, and could pass for one of the better tracks off of “Alchemy”.
Slower tracks such as “Bad Reputation” and “Tarot” are a tiny bit repetitive at times, but feature Mark Boals doing some of his best singing ever, as well as some interesting keyboard devices. “Crucify” is the most adventurous song on here in terms of instrumentation, as Yngwie’s Sitar playing is continuing to advance with each album, and he even brings a Gong in for this one, both of them appropriate as the song has a highly Eastern feel to it. Closing track “Black Sheep of the Family” is an absolutely hilarious Reggae spoof featuring some rather goofy lyrics. It actually reminds me a tiny bit of the Reggae parody of “Casbah” that Axel Rudi Pell did on the “Knight’s Treasures” DVD.
The instrumental tracks on here are probably the strongest of the lot, be it the bass riff driven “Molto Arpeggiosa”, the Baroque era homage “Preludium”, or the classical shred fest “Instru-mental Institution”. But my personal favorite from this album is the ballad “Miracle of Life”, which lyrically among the more personal songs that Yngwie has put out. It has a beautiful acoustic figure that kicks it off, and the vocals are on point the whole way through and are easily intelligible, despite the electric guitar tracks being a bit too muddy at times.
Regrettably, this album is probably the most denounced of releases to ever carry the Rising Force band name, and it is unfortunate because most of the songs on here are quite excellent. If Yngiwe ever decides to remix this material and corrects all of the hideous flaws in the current version, this could rival "Facing The Animal". However, as no such thing has occurred, it can only be recommend to core Yngwie fans (which I myself basically am), and even in that case only at a price below $6. You could have the greatest gem ever to grace the earth, but if you don’t keep it free of mud and grime, no one can tell because it can not be seen.
I am not a big fan of Yngwie, to be honest I've gotten rid of every album of his that I've gotten. My main problem with him are the usual criticims of overdone guitar leads at the expense of any other qualities of the music and the sometimes cheesy songwriting/lyrics. But its ironic that I find one of his most heavily criticized releases to be one of the only ones I can enjoy. Mainly this is the best song writing I have heard from Yngwie. Though I'm not familar with all of his work, what I hear on this album are very solid songs, well structured and each one stands out from the rest so at no point does the album get tired and overdone. There's actually some really great songs here- but here in lies the problem: they are completely disguised under production that is so flagrantly bad and obvious that one wonders if it was intentional. I don't know who is at fault here, but with rhythm guitar that gets lost in a low-end mush, stale drums, and vocals that struggle to rise above all the noise, it can be frustrating to listen to at times. Nevertheless I recommend the album for anyone brave enough to give it a chance. Mark Boals does give a good performance on vocals and Yngwie shows his prowess as a bass player as well. Great cover art too.
By the way, just skip the bonus track entirely. Its reggae and it could very well be the worst song ever recorded. (If you want to duplicate the guitar sound just get something stuck in your garbage disposal,)
Also, in true Yngwie style he's go no less than 17 photos of self-infatuation adorning the inside of the album- may be a new record.
It is the year 2000! No really it is! And Yngwie Malmsteen has been ripping up albums for some time now! He has had his awsome albums and his crappy albums. So for the first album of a new millenium probably falls in between good and bad.
The first song we start of with is Prophet of Doom, which starts off with this weird screaming noise, untypical of Malmsteen!!! But the main riff is pretty basic neo-classical metal. In fact the next 5 songs are probably the best song on this album. Songs like Crucify and Bad Reputation have the usual kick ass, headbanging till your head falls off, neo-classical riffs. And who could forget those amazing solo's! Yeah there all pakced in here as well. These few songs also have amazing lyrics, very catchy and very dark themes(the typical formula for Malmsteen lyrics).
The rest of the album is basically fill ins, except for some songs. The instrumentals definetly stay, espcially Molto Arpeggiosa! Preluidum is even cooler cause it has a lot of added orchestra instruments (if you like that kind of thing). Mircale of Life is also a great song. It is one of those slow Malmsteen songs. You know, the ones with the slow drum beat, but powerful lyrics and guitar licks. War to End All Wars has one of the fastest Malmsteen riffs. Amazing solo's and lyrics. By the way everything blends...sort of like cake and ice cream! Yeah and don't even ask what Black Sheep of the Family is all about ,cause I have no freaking clue. It's like a reggae song with Yngwie soloing!
This album isn't really bad. It has a lot of fillers, but it has a lot of decent songs too. Malmsteen hasn't lost his talent for playing. His solo's and neo-classical sweeps are amazing as always. While Mark Boals isn't the greatest singer Malmsteen has had, he still is very good (in his own way). I wouldn't necessarily run out and hunt this one down. But if you happen to find it for a cheep price, definetly pick it up...you won't regret it.