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Never Die - 85%

rbright1674, February 11th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, Pony Canyon (Japan)

"The Seventh Sign", Yngwie Malmsteen's 1994 effort, was a welcome follow up to 1992's perhaps too commercial effort "Fire & Ice". While "Fire & Ice" didn't seem entirely out of place in Yngwie's catalog, there's no doubt that his first (and only) album on Elektra was put together with more commercial appeal in mind, particularly in tracks like "Teaser" (and the sticker on the front of the CD was only too happy to announce it as a "hit single").

The deal with Elektra bottoming out, and metal not exactly flying off the shelves at that point, proved to reinvigorate Yngwie's songwriting. Bouncing back to the independent labels stateside gave him more freedom to make the sort of albums he specialized in without having to butt heads with industry suits, and "The Seventh Sign" found Yngwie hitting all the right notes. Vocalist Michael Vescera was a perfect fit for him, capable of handling whatever vocal acrobatics Yngwie wanted to throw at him. Mike Terrana puts in a wonderful job on the drums, and the late Mats Olausson tightens everything up with some really amazing keyboard work here.

The opening track "Never Die" hearkens back to the original Rising Force sound, and seems like it would fit well enough on anything from the first two solo albums. Yngwie bounces into some fun blues on "Bad Blood", and the requisite heaviness is on full display with "Pyramid of Cheops". The production quality is fantastic, and Yngwie has rarely sounded better on tape.

Material wise, if you're at all familiar with Yngwie's output, there isn't a lot here that would sound particularly shocking or surprising. But the feel of "The Seventh Sign" is that it's a good meeting ground between the first two Rising Force albums and more latter-era Rainbow-esque material; some detractors might find problems with that but fans would welcome it. It's not overly long or filled with any unnecessary fluff (a problem persistent in a lot of Yngwie's work), and that fact alone raises this release above a lot of his others for quality over quantity.

While there are certainly better albums to discover Yngwie with, "The Seventh Sign" is a fine album to spin in order to get reacquainted with him; I can't imagine any fans of "Odyssey" or "Eclipse" being upset with this disc at all. The strongest point is that, again, this is a filler-free release with fantastic production quality, and that alone for Yngwie fans is a big bonus.