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Malmsteen's Most Balanced Record - 90%

DawnoftheShred, April 5th, 2008

After flooring the metal community with his phenomenal debut album, Yngwie Malmsteen followed up his stellar neo-classical assault on the senses with a simpler, more straightforward power metal album. Though perhaps initially viewed as a step in the wrong direction, this is the direction that Yngwie would maintain for the rest of his career. Marching Out was the first of what would be several steps at simplifying the Malmsteen formula, but is easily among his best works.

Featuring only two instrumentals (discounting “Prelude,” which is basically worthless), it’s very clear that Yngwie was taking a step back in order to round out his writing. His guitar solos were still virtually untouchable for 1985, but his rhythm work was vastly simplified in order to better accommodate the increased vocal presence. This is a good thing, as it allows Jeff Scott Soto to demonstrate why he is one of the best vocalists to ever be featured on one of Yngwie’s albums. Sure, he’s still just a hired gun (after all, Yngwie writes most of the lyrics/melodies), but man can that guy sing. The derivative lyrics of tracks like “I’ll See the Light Tonight” and “Caught In The Middle” go almost completely unnoticed; the listener remaining fixated upon Soto’s vocal mastery.

And with more vocals, straightforward arrangements, and the appropriate drum/keyboard accompaniment, the sound of this album equates to a slower power metal, with a touch of 80’s mainstream metal. “I’ll See The Light Tonight” is the album’s signature tune, having the most memorable riffs/vocal lines/guitar solo of the batch. “Don’t Let It End” is completely underrated, featuring a very emotive performance from Soto. “Disciples of Hell” is the heaviest, with an acoustic opening sequence as impressive as anything Yngwie has written before or since. Everything else is quite good, though the instrumentals are mere shadows of his other works. Let him show restraint during the vocal songs, but his solo pieces should be over the top. This is what he does best, so let him do it already.

To be honest, I still kinda prefer the neoclassical instrumental approach that was unleashed on his debut, but at the same time I recognize that had he tried to repeat it, it’d have resulted in the cheapening of the style and Yngwie’s eventual obsolescence. Opening up his songwriting to include more actual “songs” instead of only writing classically-inspired suites; this is the reason that Yngwie has managed to not only survive all of these years, but to permanently establish himself as a guitar legend.

Anyway, Marching Out is an excellent album from an excellent band. So buy it already.

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