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Fire & Ice - 75%

DawnoftheShred, July 8th, 2009

Fire and Ice is perhaps the least recognized of all of Yngwie’s studio releases. The songs from this record are rarely played live and they usually don’t make it onto any sort of greatest hits album. It’s a bit hard to believe after listening to it, as it’s the same quality Malmsteen material that was found on Odyssey. With Goran Edman from the Eclipse album returning on vocals, there’s a certain poppy quality to it at times, but otherwise it’s just another good power metal album from Yngwie with perhaps a bit more division in song types.

The Fire

Opening instrumental “Perpetual” kicks about as much ass as is humanly possible; the guitars and keyboards interacting beautifully and…what’s that sound? That low scratching sound? If you listen carefully you can hear it….that’s the sound of Symphony X guitarist Michael Romeo and keyboardist Michael Pinnella taking notes. They do this exact thing on various Symphony X material to equally incredible effect (see: “Fallen” and “Of Sin and Shadows”). Though I heard their stuff first, it’s no less dramatic on here. Instrumental works are where Malmsteen most excels, and there are a few of them on here. “Leviathan” is also excellent, actually reminding one of early Dream Theater. “Golden Dawn” is just a brief acoustic thing, but it too is nice.

Vocal tracks are still the majority though, and a lot of good songs are present. Goran Edman, though less remarkable than his predecessors, isn’t a bad singer, kinda reminds me of Glenn Hughes or Doug Pinnick really. Very soulful. Anyway, he actually adds a lot to the Purplish “Dragonfly” and the sprawling “How Many Miles to Babylon.” “Cry No More” is an excellent addition to his more pop-oriented catalogue and another place where the keyboards are so poignant in backing the guitars that they actually garner most of the focus while Yngwie shreds away. It’s also one of dozens of places on early Malmsteen albums that predict the rise of Symphony X. “Forever is a Long Time,” despite the moronic title, is a good return to the all-out power metal songs, as is “No Mercy.” However most of the stand-outs here are in the slower, atmosphere-oriented songs like those above; the power metal tunes worked a bit better with the earlier lineups.

The Ice

“Teaser,” ugh. Starts a cappella like “Heaven Tonight,” then proceeds to be a poppy Foreigner reject. Easily one of Yngwie’s worst commercial songs. “C’est la Vie” is significant as the first song on which Yngwie plays the sitar, which I’m sure was decided in all of the time it takes to say “fuck it, it has strings doesn’t it?” Otherwise, it’s not particularly special. Same goes for the title track and the ballad “I’m My Own Enemy,” where Malmsteen’s ever-dazzling leadwork is one of the few saving graces. None of this stuff is really outright terrible, but Yngwie’s albums might be a bit more consistent if he left a couple of the weaker tracks off instead of just throwing as much material onto his CDs as possible.

But overall, it’s great 80’s metal from the early 90’s. Certainly not the best thing out there or even the best thing with Malmsteen’s name on it, but it’s another good album for those that enjoyed Trilogy or Odyssey.