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Shred Meets Compostions - 85%

brocashelm, September 28th, 2009

One of those few examples of a largely instrumental album that features strong writing and not just pyrotechnic wanking, we witness Yngwie Malmsteen’s first solo offering. First off, you pronounce the dude’s name “ing-yay,” okay? Second, those hip at the time already knew this Swedish meatball from his stints with Steeler and Alcatrazz. Thus the man’s guitar techniques were not unknown, but here they assume full flight. Using a style not unlike that of Ritchie Blackmore or Uli Jon Roth, Malmsteen’s sound is bereft of rock or blues influence, and pushed the envelope for both velocity and dexterity in the maligned guitar shredder category of metal. All of this technique is used to create music with sound compositions, something the majority of guitar geeks failed to manage.

“Black Star” rides a loping pulse, with quite memorable melodic barbs along it’s way. “Far Beyond The Sun” is a likable duel between Yngwie and ex-Silver Mountain keyboard basher Jens Johansson with dandy results. “Icarus Dream Suite OP.4” is as pretentious a title as you could want, but this emotional and brilliantly constructed piece is so well written that it’s 8 and a half minutes seem more like 3. In fact the only real snag is the two vocal cuts, which feature singer Jeff Scott Soto in less than inspired performances. He doesn’t get much help from the tunes themselves, which sound like they weren’t written with vocals in mind. A dry, almost demo like sound pervades, and it’s dusty ambience is favorable to the digital clarity nightmares often preferred for this kind of show-off style record.

From here Malmsteen would enjoy a varied and colorful career, often dotting his records with flecks of the sustained brilliance he reveals here. Guitar worshippers should grab ‘em all, but for those more concerned with quality music uber alles should snag this one first, and perhaps only.