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Neo-classical masterpiece - 100%

Fathertime, July 3rd, 2008

Having some high quality neo-classical heavy metal records under his belt, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, the undisputed guitar maestro, decided to please himself with making a record without any vocals, bass guitar or pounding drum beats and not only himself, but his devoted fans as well, who have been contemplating and dreaming on this topic for quite some time. Many bands before him (Deep Purple, Rage, Kiss) and after him (Dream Theater, Metallica) have recorded or played live with an actual orchestra but the key difference in this offering is the fact, that the orchestra doesn't break its very foundation in order to fit into the world of rock music, but it happens the other way - a rock/metal guitarist becomes incorporated into the world of classical music in perfect unity with the orchestra.

The record itself consists of beautiful melodies and shredding solos, but unlike his previous albums on this record Yngwie's melodies shine more brightly and seem much more complex. This can be credited mainly to the underlining of the orchestra. A great example is to be heard in the track "Fugue" where homage to J.S.Bach is payed - two melodies are played, whereby one melody is played by electric guitar and the second by the orchestra and than they reverse them. Many key changes in this song is also something new for Yngwie and add more complexity to the whole piece. The solos are once again full of improvisation but this being a trade mark of Yngwie's guitar playing one can hardly complain about that.

It's hard to name any stand outs of this beautiful album, I would have to name all of the songs. My favourite would probably be the afore mentioned Bach tributing "Fugue", the victorious and intricate "Vivace", the happily outpouring "Presto vivace" with a great A minor solo riff in the middle or the furious arpeggios of "Finale".

Very interesting on this record is the fact, that Yngwie reuses many of his trademark solo licks to make the backbone of his compositions. If you hear parts of songs like Demon Driver or Fire & Ice throughout the record, don't deem it for anything unusual. Some solo riffs and melodies recorded here are completely stunning, i.e. outro of "Vivace", main riff of "Sarabande" or the two syncopated riffs in main part of "Fugue".

On this album Yngwie decided to go the right way and to serve his listeners high quality music, that will have its place in history. Although nothing for the casual heavy metal fan, this record subliminally propagates the classical music and even I was turned onto great works of composers like N. Paganini or J. S. Bach by listening to this masterpiece.