Released: 1999, Jim Lewis Entertainment
Yngwie J. Malmsteen - guitar GOD, period! Yngwie is without doubt one of the best guitarist to grace this world. I've been a fan of Yngwie's for many, many years thus I was excited about the return to the moniker Rising Force and the return of one of the better vocalists Yngwie has worked with - Mark Boals (vocalist for Trilogy - probably my favorite Yngwie CD). Mark's vocals are great and only in a couple of places sound thin (for example listen to the high screams on "Leonardo"). But hey, it is the guitar playing that really puts this over the top. Sure there have been many imitators, but none quite pull it off with the feel and style of Yngwie. For those who view Yngwie's soloing as guitar masturbation - go back to your simple mind-numbing three-note music, cause this is just too much talent for you to handle! Also isn't it funny that the same musicians who bash the neo-classical style of playing are the worst kind of musicians out there and play in shit bands like K**n. Why members of no-talent bands like that grace the covers of guitar magazines is beyond me! But I digress...back to the matter at hand - ALCHEMY!
Musically, this is classic Yngwie. For those who haven't a clue, this means lots of neo-classical leads, sweeping arpeggios and soaring vocals. The intensity levels or song tempos don't quite match that of some of the early Yngwie material despite the fact that Yngwie was quoted as saying that this would be "...completely and totally extreme, in playing and in composition." This is a step in the right direction without doubt. Not to say that he's every really totally went in the wrong direction (well Eclipse was not a highpoint). I have all the Yngwie CD's and although some are more interesting than others, they all have something to offer. So this is not really all that extreme, it is in places, but overall could of been more heavy in the rhythm department. However out of all the "guitar gods" Yngwie is to me the only one who can write riffs and songs and not just mindlessly solo.
The track "Playing With Fire" is a great track although it doesn't stand up to the classic Yngwie "Fire." Another fave of mine on the CD is the total ass-kicking mind-blowing "Wield My Sword" - now this is classic material!! - fast, double kick drums, ripping guitars the only thing missing is Jens Johansson who's keyboard dueling with Yngwie was always a highlight for me. The keys on this song and on many places in the CD take a back seat and add more of an atmospheric element - cool, but could be improved. More tracks like "Wield My Sword" would of made this CD even more godly but hey, I love the more intense songs and this CD is not only about intensity. "Demon Dance" is also classic Yngwie with cool lyrics like - "Centuries ago. Unholy Sacrifice. Rivers of blood did flow. Demons Arise." haha classic or what? Megadeth had a song called Hanger 18, well since they don't own the title nor the place it supposedly occupies why can't Yngwie have a song about it too? Well he does, it's "Hanger 18, Area 51" and it's a killer track. The crowning glory of the CD is the trilogy called "Asylum" with "I - Asylum", "II - Sky Euphoria" and "III - Quantum Leap." This is instrumental technical madness at it's best. It has all the elements that make Yngwie great - the heaviness, the melody, acoustic guitar parts, orchestras, and lots of flawless lead guitar. I could put these tracks on repeat for a few hours and not get bored!
Complaints about this CD are few and minor. The CD has a couple of tracks that didn't overly freak me out (well it did in the lead guitar department!!). For example the muddy sounding "The Stand" which is a little on the radio friendly side was kind of a filler track. This track's redeeming quality is the long solo section - wow. Yngwie's rhythm sound is not as crunchy or as heavy as I like, but what a sweet lead sound! The CD has some really nice packaging and mine came with a cool foldout poster (yeah it's on the wall already). However, there were no pics of the band inside. Too bad.
Fans of Yngwie and of power metal in general should definitely check this CD out. Yngwie is FAR from washed up and he clearly has a lot more amazing metal left in him to record. For more info on Yngwie visit the official page at http://www.yngwie.org