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A fury at the crossroads. - 81%

hells_unicorn, September 11th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2005, CD, Spitfire Records

Barring the occasional douche bag worshiping at the church of grunge, there are few out there who question the greatness of Malmsteen the guitarist, though opinions tend to be a bit divided regarding his consistency as a songwriter and his judgment in album production. Ironically enough, him being the subject of derision in American mainstream rock circles during the mid-1990s did little to impact the quality of his output at the time, and it would be a bit later that he'd get bitten by the modernity bug. One might be tempted to point to the grooving stomp of Facing The Animal or the more laid back and atmospheric Alchemy as being the point where things started to decline, but while these albums showed a shift in stylistic direction from his iconic 80s sound, it was the nu-metal oriented production sound that tainted an otherwise solid album in War To End All Wars which marked a brief period of recession in the Yngwie musical economy. To put it more bluntly, what Kurt Cobain failed to accomplish would be achieved, to an extent, by the likes of Limp Bizkit.

In keeping with this somewhat hyperbolic take on the state of the America-based, old school metal resistance of the late 90s (there wasn't much of one), Malmsteen's 2005 album Unleash The Fury marks a turning point of sorts. On the one hand, it holds over a number of production issues that haunted its predecessor Attack!, which were thankfully less overt than the auditory mush of a mixing job that turned War To End All Wars into a dud. Then again, it sees a much needed shot in the arm in the songwriting department that results in a more engaging and riveting, albeit somewhat overloaded musical affair that manages to punch through the modern production quirks. It also presents a unique blend of nostalgic moments amid what is a highly varied array of songs, almost to the point of listening like a summation of Yngwie's entire musical background, veering through a number of differing classical and world music influences that rivals the sort of eclecticism that is sometimes flaunted by progressive rock bands.

All of the usual tricks of Malmsteen's trade are in fine working order here, from the blinding streams of rapid fire scale runs and sweep picking to the classical period musical cliches. Some exude more of a past conscious tone that remember the mid to late 80s flair of Rising Force, such as the driving heaviness of "Locked And Loaded" and the Baroque-inspired speeder (and nod to the Gospel accounts of Christ's crucifixion) "Crown Of Thorns", not to mention a rather auspiciously shred-happy, modern and shorter re-imagining of the "Trilogy Suite" in "Magic And Mayhem". They don't quite rivet at the same level as "Never Die" or "Vengeance", largely due to the weak drum sound and more muddied rhythm guitar tone, but the songwriting and Doogie White's Dio-inspired shouts definitely deliver a formidable fist to the ear drum. On a similar note, the equally fast and flashy "Let The Good Times Roll" manages to mix in some heavy ended grooving while being so infectiously catchy that the weak production all but melts away.

Keeping one foot in the modern and more droning era of Malmsteen's history, there is a rather curiously strong assortment of slower-paced numbers that manage to buck the down-turn by channeling several good ideas found on Facing The Animal. Songs like "Cracking The Whip" and "The Boogeyman" (the latter song probably could have helped the abysmal performance of the movie by the same name that came out at around the same time had it made the soundtrack) feature solid, pounding groove lines that makes one wonder if Yngwie wasn't admiring Pantera's handiwork to an extent, despite all the shit that Anselmo and the Abbott brothers were giving him throughout the 90s. The eastern tinged, murky trudge of "Revelation (Drinking With The Devil)" actually takes a few notes from "Pyramid Of Cheops" off the Seventh Sign album, while the blues/rock homage to Hendrix "Cherokee Warrior" sees Yngwie himself providing some smoky, nonchalant vocals over an unforgettable set of hooks to complement the wah pedal drenched noodling.

While a bit long on material and some of the songs being a bit less distinct than others, this is a decent outing, especially compared to the previous couple of albums that brought a degree of embarrassment to the repertoire of the guitarist and band that arguably helped usher in the European power metal revival of the same day. It also marks the end of Malmsteen's brief run with Spitfire records reintroducing him to the American market and Steamhammer handling European distribution, which some might argue paved the way for him eventually abandoning the notion of Rising Force having a lead vocalist and reverting back to where Malmsteen was on this band's eponymous debut. If nothing else, it showcases a metal music icon who does what he does best, namely setting his guitar on fire every time he plays without the need of lighter fluid to get the flames rolling.

Complete shit... - 25%

The_Ghoul, December 4th, 2007

...and it disappoints me that Yngwie is putting out such utter excrement. Where to begin? Well, the singing. Doogie White, the biggest wannabe ever, cannot sing worth a shit, and is completely inappropriate on an Yngwie album. I'll keep it at that.

The production is a definite low point on this album, if I had to choose one. When Yngwie was 21 and released Rising Force (and then Marching Out), the poor production was excusable, and added to the music's charm. Here, all it does is detract from the music, and furthermore, it's dishonest. When a young band makes an album that has rather raw production, it's a tacit statement saying that the band doesn't have the cash to afford a crystal clear production, and it works with artists such as first era Bathory, Sodom, olskool Mayhem, even Oldoldschool Savatage.

However, here, Yngwie is clearly capable of doing better. Look at albums such as The Seventh Sign and Magnum Opus. The production there was stunning. I don't even demand the production be crystal clear, either; this production manages to be overproduced and underproduced at the same time. It's like Yngwie caught the St. Anger bug and got really annoying tin can drums and guitars that effectively act as an amorphous blob, managing to overpower every other goddamn instrument on here, yet I still can't pick out the leads half the time.

Also, the playing on this CD is sloppy. If it were coming from a new shred band that's still trying to find its sound, I'd excuse it. Coming from Yngwie, it's unexcusable. It makes the music sound like shit and makes Yngwie sound like a self centered prick through his playing. The drums are a step down from drummers like Anders Johansson and Mike Terrana and are noticably more simple and rather "dumbed down" as it were. In addition, every song sounds the same. Sure, one might think "Every Yngwie album sounds the same. That's part of his schtick." Well, still, this is too much. 16 songs and only 2 or 3 are memorable. At least on previous albums he put an effort into distinguishing the songs and writing memorable songs. Here, it's all the same drek.

I actually dug the cover when I saw it. I took it as a bold, ballsy statement from a guitarist who's already proven himself many times. I hoped the music would be able to back up his statement and UNLEASH THE FOOKIN' FYOORY! Unfortunately, this album doesn't even come close to unleashing the fury, nor the rage, or even the anger. All it unleashes is annoyance, and that's annoyance at Yngwie for making such a shit album when he's capable of so much more.

This album gets a 0 for having NO content whatsoever, however 25 points because despite how much he sunk with this album, Yngwie can still fuckin' play. However, if you want to hear Yngwie really rip it up, get albums like Facing the Animal, Seventh Sign, Magnum Opus, or hell, get all 4 of the classic Rising Force albums (Odyssey, Trilogy, Marching Out, Rising Force). Those were genre defining classics. This (Unleash the Fury) is forgettable empty musical calories.

Completely Underrated - 89%

Erin_Fox, October 28th, 2006

Few that have ever picked up an electric guitar can do the things with it that Yngwie Malmsteen can. To label the six string shredder as a virtuoso is an understatement and his penchant for creating a variety of metal sounds stands as mightily as ever on his latest opus “Unleash The Fury.”

Followers who reveled in the shred master’s “Trilogy” and “Odyssey” records will find that a similar fluid continuity runs deeply through this album. As much as this ripping lead player can burn up a fret board, he is also wizened in the tactics of getting the utmost emotion from but a handful of notes. Malmsteen emphasizes dramatic overtones and accents urgent rhythms with captivatingly masterful shifts in scalar patterns, all the while retaining a mystical sound that displays a disciplined metal character like none other.

During “Crown Of Thorns,” the guitarist is at his finest, tearing off slashing licks and amazingly blistering runs effortlessly. Vocalist Dougie White croons in a quite similar fashion to past singer Jeff Scott Soto on the medieval natured “Winds Of War (Invasion)”, while pulling off an interestingly sleazy snarl on the at times funky “The Boogieman”, a track which brings a bass heavy thump along for the hook.

Anyone who is a true metal guitar aficionado is going to be pleasantly surprised at Malmsteen’s ability to morph through varied metal phrasings. During the staccato plucking of Cherokee Warrior, Malmsteen offers classically inspired tones that are embedded inside a wild spirit, while “The Hunt” offers razor-edged precision accompanied by a staunchly theatrical undertone.

At times, a man’s works may justify a strong ego, and the music on this album can be considered as nothing except being masterful. Yngwie J. Malmsteen is the man who brought classical compositional theory to the fore with “Rising Force” and on “Unleash The Fury”, the adept player shows that he can create songs that are as respectfully tuneful yet astoundingly performed as well as ever, making this album yet another of the many highlights in the tenure of a player that will surely stand as legend to aspiring guitarists for decades to come.

Unleash the Excrement - 20%

DethMaiden, July 17th, 2006

Yngwie Malmsteen fans are fairly zealous. They aren't as bad as the Dream Theater fans who insist that their band reinvent music every time they take a shit, but they're still pretty bad. They don't understand that there's a difference between technical capability and good songwriting.

I won't dispute the fact that Yngwie Malmsteen is a great guitarist, in fact, he's probably one of the greatest ones the world has ever seen. But for the life of him, he can't channel this skill into anything productive. His "epics" are rambling, his lightspeed instrumentals are anticlimactic, and his shorter songs with vocals are generally laughable.

I don't even really like his allegedly classic records like RISING FORCE, but this one really crosses the line. The cover art looks like he did the thing on his home PC, and the sound quality proves the fact. Seriously, whoever let this out at the label needs to be fired. The songwriting is obviously not focused on whatsoever, because eighteen tracks were "unleashed" (ah, the endless puns) and none of them are as memorable as any other. I guess Cherokee Warrior is kind of cool, but the vocals completely ruin it.

And let's focus on vocals for a moment, shall we? Yngwie is infamous for hiring okay vocalists and making them semi-stars in the world of metal. Rainbow-wannabe Doogie White, almost formerly of Iron Maiden, sings quite badly and with many cliched rock star-isms like "alright", "oh yeah", and "come on". Yuck, don't bother.

Yngwie says he's primarily inspired by Nicolo Paganini, but he didn't read the man's music closely enough. Paganini is still remembered, loved, and paid tribute to in many concert halls the world over. No one will hear the word "Yngwie" again after he finally hangs up his scalloped Strat. For all the speedy neoclassical runs and fat-man tongue-flails, Yngwie always ends up right where he started.


Force Rises To Former Glory - 90%

KingMoo, April 27th, 2005

Since Yngwie Malmsteen released Attack!! in 2002 and proved he was on
the right track to improving his music and returning to his former glory, I have eagerly awaited what we now know to be called 'Unleash The Fury'. Whether or not the title is a humorous reference to the incident so often brought up is irrelevant, the point is Yngwie Malmsteen has indeed returned and with Fury.

Yes okay, I was so eager I purchased the Japanese release and will also be purchasing the British release when it is finally out, sad maybe, but since this exciting revival in 2002 I have been bursting with anticipation to hear what the maestro of neoclassical metal was to present us with next. And what we are presented with enters Lockedand Loaded. A typical metal track which, while still signature Yngwie, left an unsure feeling in my mind by its demise, was Yngwie heading down the track of War To End All Wars? Substituting music and melody for heavy drums and over hyped metal? Such thoughts escaped my mind after literally the first few seconds of track two, Revolution.

This to me is where the album finally sets in, Malmsteen to me has always been the best at conjuring feelings of 'desperation' throughout his music which to me makes a metal track, and he sticks to this feeling through the majority of the album. Revolution's solo is amongst the best in Malmsteen's career, so brilliantly melodic, shifting through scales easily and with such speed it leaves a smile upon your face at just how delicately placed some melodies are within his solos which perhaps have gone amiss in the past, this incredible improvement in soloing is continued throughout the album.
When Cracking The Whip's riff kicked in I could do nothing more than turn up the volume and sit back in awe. Of course now head banging is clearly in order now that such a beast of a riff has impressed me for a good few weeks. The chorus to this track is coolly presented by the voice of Yngwie himself, and suits the riff in a rough manner which I think Dougie White's vocals would not do to such an extent. Not to take anything away from Dougie White, already after 3 tracks it is clear his vocal pipes can go far beyond what they
were challenged to in Attack!! and is perfect for this album as a whole.

Neoclassical themes are carried throughout the whole album, and tracks such as Crown of Thorns (a Ship of Fools style track) and Fuguetta the short-sweet Malmsteen-esque classical guitar solo. The oddball track for this album once again nails the job of one of the best tracks in there, (It is actually hard to name the best track there are so many). The Bogeyman, which was said to have 'A Riff That Just Wont Quit' lived up to this quote perfectly, the rough, oily bassline could be played for hours on end to me before pressing stop.

I was a bit disappointed upon listening to one track which I see to be a bit of an 'Ill see the light tonight' rip-off, namely 'Let the Good Times Roll'. It still was a fantastic track with an utterly different verse to the Marching Out opener, but I still found myself singing the chorus the old fashioned way. The album begins to climax with this feeling of desperation heightening courtesy of tracks such as Russian Roulette and Exile until its final and inevitable presentation, as the Fury was to be Unleashed. As a standalone track or placed anywhere else in the album, I feel this track would be less appreciated, but due to this album effort building up gradually, the track comes across (to repeat myself) inevitable and seems a requirement to complete the album. The Black Sabbath style introduction into the heavy drum beat which has been consistently brilliant throughout (don't wish to
neglect congratulating Patrik on another fantastic Rising Force effort) is merely the tip of what is to erupt as the chorus closes, the massive parochial deep-wails send shivers down the spine. This track really sums up what I find myself saying all too often: 'Turn it up, this track sounds better really loud', as does it sum up the album brilliantly.

Before closing, and without wanting to jump into the cliche Malmsteen review by stating the phrase: 'We can't have a Malmsteen album without instrumentals can we?', I fear I must use words to such an effect in order to continue, so here we go:

We can't have a Malmsteen album without instrumentals can we? There, I got it out of the way.

While fuguetta is acoustic and far too short, Magic & Mayhem provides us with the blistering technique shown in tracks such as Blitzkreig while incorporating fantastic baroque tunes and themes which I really havn't seen Yngwie use so strongly in previous instrumentals, a very solid track from Yngwie proving that he really is the king of instrumental electric guitar. Guardian Angel basically sounds like Brothers and Like an Angel mixed together which is a bit disappointing but nevertheless still a track I wouldnt skip. The closing track is a jovial yet somewhat smooth instrumental and a good way to end the album, without straying from the feeling of power and ''Fury'' yet managing to drift off nicely.

On a whole, this album isn't a step forward for Yngwie Malmsteen's
Rising Force, but it feels like unfinished business which Malmsteen
probably felt he owed to his genius 1980's records which he left behind to persue more melodic metal and radio ready material in the early 1990's.
I recommend this as 100% Rising Force music for those who may have strayed since his early works. Old fans and new fans alike can enjoy how he can return to his early form so smoothly, whilst still cleverly incorporating new ideas he has picked up along the way, tracks such as 'The Bogeyman' and 'Cherokee Warrior' (to which he sings the latter himself).
I recommend this album to long lost Yngwie fans, newfound Yngwie fans,
and anyone with a taste for heavy metal orientated by clever composition. Please give us more of this Yngwie Malmsteen, your best effort since your debut Rising Force album, top marks, thank you.

(Highest Points: Revolution, Crown of Thorns, The Bogeyman, Cracking The Whip, Russian Roulette, Magic & Mayhem)

90%, 10 percent dropped for abusing your earlier works in the tracks: Let The Good Times Roll and The Hunt.

Thanks For Reading,

Darren Johnson

Post script, I think if the album cover had 3 claw slashes through it it would look better :)