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Double live = double awesome - 97%

Black_Star, July 8th, 2005

In 1998, nearly ten years had passed since Yngwie Malmsteen released his first live album. There are a lot of similarities between "Trial by Fire - Live in Leningrad" and "Double Live" (aka "Yngwie Malmsteen Live!!). Besides a couple essential tracks that are found on both albums, there is a cover on each. The similarities don't end there, "Trial by Fire" and "Double Live" were released the year after arguably the two most commercial studio albums in "Odyssey" and "Facing the Animal". With this in mind, the crowd reaction and participation would be at a record high. It can only help that "Double Live" was recorded in Brazil with some of the craziest, wildest and beat metal fans out there.

The first track off of this two disc, fifteen song album is "My Resurrection". This is a new song from "Facing the Animal". This album starts off brilliantly with the many chats of "Malmsteen, Malmsteen, Malmsteen!" coming from the very loud and excited crowd. Then a great guitar solo intro starts the show off. When "My Resurrection" finally starts, it is performed flawlessly with Mats Leven providing the beautiful vocals. Yngwie Malmsteen controls the crowd's energy by soloing like there was no tomorrow. The catchy chorus that emerges from this song just makes the listener want to headbang uncontrollably. A real winner and a perfect song to kick things into high gear.

Next up is the title track from "Facing the Animal". This song is a very good studio song but the live version is far superior. The solo that the guitar virtuoso belts out is a true crowd pleaser. There is not much more to say about this song except that it is much better than the studio version like all the other tracks on this live album.

"Rising Force" starts off with a great keyboard intro provided by Mats Olaussson, which is a suitable replacement for the master, Jens Johansson. This intro is a great mood setter. Once the drums kick in, courtesy of Jonas Ostman who is a superb replacement for the recently departed Cozy Powell (R.I.P.) the song really takes off. The listener realizes that this is one of, if not the best non instrumental song that Yngwie Malmsteen has ever written. A little after the two minute and fifteen second mark, one of the best guitar solos in recent memory takes place. This outstanding solo is only better live. This might be the best track on the album.

Up next, "Bedroom Eyes". This tune starts off with a little soloing and noodling around on the guitar to get the crowd into it. When the song finally starts off at about the forty second mark, a beautiful blues inspired song begins. "Bedroom Eyes" is an underrated classic from "Eclipse". As Rodney Dangerfield would say, "I get no respect". Well, this song doesn't either but on the plus side, the live version of it will open your eyes and ears to the true awesomeness of this hidden gem. Mats Leven really showcases his vocal skills during this song while Yngwie displays his blues influences in his solos. Again, an underrated classic off of "Eclipse" and probably will be one on "Double Live".

After this, vocalist Mats Leven aks the crowd if they want more Malmsteen and the answer is a loud hell yeah. It's now time for Mr. Malmsteen to dazzle the audience with his neo classical and shredding abilities. The perfect song for this is "Far Beyond the Sun". This brilliant instrumental opens with a long intro to set the tone. Yngwie really displays his playing abilities. Once "Far Beyond the Sun" starts, the crowd is pumped and ready for a show. The guitar extraordinaire doesn't disappoint. Yngwie plays "Far Beyond the Sun" in such a fashion that the famous instrumental couldn't be any better...and if it was it would be illegal. The added excellence comes from the man himself because he prolongs the solos while adding an element of improvisation. All this only solidifies the track. Mats Olausson gets to demonstrate his amazing keyboard skills and succeeds enormously. This is by far the best instrumental that the Swede has ever created and after hearing this live rendition, nobody will be denying this statement.

After the insane performance of "Far Beyond the Sun", the listeners need to cool off a little bit. The best way to accomplish this is with "Like an Angel - For April". This is a simple and obligatory ballad that is dedicated to Yngwie's wife April Malmsteen. This ballad opens up with some nice piano playing. Not much to say about this except that it's beautiful and has a killer guitar solo.

This live album regains its speed and momentum after the soft ballad "Like an Angel". This happens with the criminally underrated "Brave Heart" from "Facing the Animal". "Brave Heart" is very fast and furious and a great live song. Definitely one of the best tracks from "Double Live". One of the reasons for this is the astonishing guitar and keyboard playing.

"Seventh Sign" is next and this is a showstopper. This great song starts off with some masterful acoustic guitar playing. After this, the crowd is really into it. This was a brilliant song on the "Seventh Sign" album and live, it is increased by a thousand times. Like all Malmsteen songs, there is a guitar solo but on this track it stands out. Maybe it's because the accompanying music is so damn good or just because it's a solo for the ages. In any case, the middle part of the song slays. Once we return to the chorus, we get some awesome crowd participation from the Brazilian metalheads in attendance. Simply put, it is a masterpiece.

There is only one way to capture the crowd's attention and capture their energy. A fifteen minute guitar solo. On "Trail by Fire", the solo was five minutes shorter and it was incredible so the possibilities for this one were numerous. "Guitar Solo (Trilogy Suite, Red House, Badinere)" begins with some excellent shredding. This sets the atmosphere. Once Jonas Ostman starts playing the drums at an incredible speed and begins playing "Trilogy Suite", all hell breaks loose. Jonas works the bass drums marvellously. Like "Far Beyond the Sun", this instrumental/solo contains much improvisation and prolonged solos. "Trilogy Suite" doesn't last long but makes a great impact on the listener. This solo is very similar to the one found on "Trial by Fire". The keyboard presence is amazing. After the initial shredding, dies down, Yngwie decides to play some Hendrix. He plays "Red House". This song was also done on the first live album but this time, Yngwie decides to take a stab at singing. He does mighty well and gives us a preview for things to come in the future as he now sings one song per album. When "Red House" finishes, there is still almost five minutes left. After the Hendrix, a classical piece is played on the keyboards while Yngwie follows along on the guitar. To wrap it up, some guitar noodling with the heavy use of pedals takes place. Further showing the genius of Malmsteen.

The first song off disc two is a cover of Rainbow's "Gates of Babylon". Ritchie Blackmore is one of Yngwie Malmsteen's idols so it is only fitting that this song is present. The seven minute epic starts off with some great sitar playing. The song opens with a good drum beat and a heavy guitar riff. Mats Leven does a splendid job on vocals. Only Ronnie James Dio could do a better job. Yngwie provides another great solo that would make Mr. Blackmore proud. "Trial by Fire" had Jimi Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic" but it doesn't hold a candle to this Rainbow classic or the Deep Purple cover that is soon to come. In a touching moment, Mats Leven dedicates "Gates of Babylon" to Cozy Powell. "Facing the Animal" was the last album that Cozy worked on before his untimely death.

"Alone in Paradise" is quite a catchy tune off of "Facing the Animal". This song features unique guitar work. Besides that, there isn't much more to say about this track except that it features a spectacular solo like in every other song.

The next track is another Ritchie Blackmore classic. This time around, it's Deep Purple's magnificent "Pictures of Home" from 1972's legendary "Machine Head". Like "Gates of Babylon", this song is also featured on Yngwie Malmsteen's 1996 cover album "Inspiration". The studio versions of the Blackmore songs were great but don't have the high energy that the live versions contain. Jonas Ostman starts this amazing cover with an incredible drum solo that is reminiscent of Ian Paice's glory days. Once the crowd realizes what song this is, they go absolutely wild. "Pictures of Home" is a perfect song to play live because it contains a bass, drum, keyboard and guitar solo. All this is one tune! Deep Purple were Gods. Mats Leven doesn't quite have the power that Ian Gillian once possessed but he still does a damn fine job and lays down a top of the notch performance. Yngwie Malmsteen adds a little more to the guitar solos in a Ritchie Blackmore kind of way. "Pictures of Home" is a work of art and this is a solid cover. One of the best songs off "Double Live" along with "Rising Force" and "Brave Heart".

"Never Die" is one of the standout songs from Yngwie's 90s career and one of his best. "Never Die" ranks up there with songs like "I Am a Viking", "You Don't Remember, I'll Never Forget", "Queen in Love" and "Disciples of Hell". "Never Die" is played much faster than the studio version, further adding to its appeal. This song features some great vocals and a great mind bending solo. Yngwie delivers the goods during its fine rendition. But we can't forget the solid playing from Mats Olausson. The chanting of "Malmsteen, Malmsteen, Malmsteen" is very loud and deserved after this spectacular performance.

After "Never Die", "Black Star" is next. The second instrumental on this live album and only the second track to be featured on "Trial by Fire" and "Double Live" along with "Far Beyond the Sun". "Black Star" is arguably the second best instrumental that Yngwie Malmsteen created after its "Double Live" counterpart. "Black Star" starts off with a nice acoustic guitar intro. This goes on until the one minute and thirty five second mark where Yngwie proceeds to play a classical Mozart piece. This is much to the delight of the South Americans. When the dust finally settles and the acoustic soloing is over, "Black Star" really begins. This instrumental features some of the best soloing in years. This nine minute plus instrumental is pure gold.

The last song on this marvellous two disc live album is a classic and a fan favourite from 1985's "Marching Out". Before "I'll see the Light Tonight" begins, Yngwie Malmsteen seizes the audiences attention for the last time with a little guitar work. When this classic finally begins, the crowd goes ballistic. "I'll see the Light Tonight" contains a smashing guitar/keyboard solo. It's really majestic to be honest and the only proper way to end the show.

The only possible disadvantage or potential problem is that Yngwie Malmsteen has a revolving door of musicians. With this is mind, you can't be sure that a musician from one album will be able to replace the musician from the previous album. Fear not, this is and never has been a problem for the guitar God. Mats Leven can cover material from Jeff Scott Soto, Mark Boals, Joe Lynn Turner, Goran Edman and Michael Vescera without any problem. Mats Olausson is the legitimate heir to Jens Johansson who was a legend on the keyboards and still is with Stratovarius. Barry Dunaway, who played one the first live album is back and he can deliver solid bass lines and can keep the heavy beats going. Jonas Ostman has done a splendid job on this album. He replaced the late great Cozy Powell on drums for the "Facing the Animal" tour. Jonas does a bang up job replacing a legend. Finally, there is the man, the myth and the legend, Yngwie Malmsteen. He is truly a guitar genius, virtuoso and God. He can go from playing Blackmore to Hendrix to Mozart and back to Blackmore all on one album. This is incredible!

In conclusion, "Double Live" is a must have for all Malmsteen fans. This live offering is recommended to all his die hard fans, rookies to his music and everyone that abandoned him in the early 90s. Besides two instrumentals and a guitar solo, all the material found on this two disc live album isn't found on 1989's "Trial by Fire - Live in Leningrad". "Double Live" contains Yngwie's biggest hits from the 80s like "I'll See the Light, Tonight"and "Rising Force". Also found, are his hits and lesser known stuff from the 90s like "Bedroom Eyes", "Seventh Sign" and "Never Die" but there are also two amazing covers and we can't forget the songs from the album that Yngwie was promoting at the time of the recording of this live album. That's right, "Brave Heart", "My Resurrection" and "Alone in Paradise" all come from the "Facing the Animal" album. To sum up this review, if you want spectacular solos, ass kicking covers and just a good time, pick up Yngwie Malmsteen's "Double Live".