Yngwie J. Malmsteen
Released: 1995, Viceroy
Editors Note: Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any websites were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
I’ve had a conversation with a friend and colleague who felt that this was a really fantastic record for Yngwie. We also both felt quite disappointed that Yngwie very publically in the media disowned the album, saying it was horrible, one of his worst albums. We felt it was awesome, he felt it sucked, which took a bit of the shine off the album. What did this mean? Would he change direction again, just after was getting back up to speed? The short answer is, Yes. He signed back onto a major label, recruited another, smoother singer in the form of fellow Swede Mats Levin, and released the very commercial (and successful) album, FACING THE ANIMAL. Years later we felt a bit vindicated when in interviews Yngwie retracted his previous statements about MAGNUM OPUS explaining that he was going through a rough divorce, management trouble and of course now dropping onto a much smaller label and that the album is not nearly as bad as he said it was. One little victory for us as MAGNUM OPUS still stands in the top third of his catalogue for me.
Released in 1995 in North America on the small Viceroy label, the elegant looking cover with a regal design and blue-green colour scheme, is very eye-catching, far superior to the close-up of Yngwie’s nose on the last album! Yngwie continues his pattern of using a singer for a couple of albums again recruiting the pipes of Mike Vescara (Obsession, Loudness) who puts in another stellar performance. Because Yngwie is not really a ‘band’ in the traditional sense I suppose it doesn’t matter too much but the ‘band’ expanded to a quintet, dropping drummer Mike Terrana and adding Barry Sparks on bass and Shane Gaalaas on drums. The production is immaculate, recorded in Yngwie’s studio in Miami with Chris Tsangerides.
Yngwie continued the direction started on his semi-comeback album THE SEVENTH SIGN which was a return to a more Metal inspired sound, after a string of three successful, but commercial albums on major labels. That is not to say the album was a full-on shred fest, there were some certainly melody based songs like ‘The Only One’ which had it been released in 1988 could have, would have been as big as ‘Heaven Tonight’ with it’s super smooth and catchy chorus. Settled nicely in the middle of the 11 song, 50-minute record is the instrumental ‘Overture 1622’ is a showcase for Yngwie prowess on guitar. Another highlight, with a long a spooky opening intro and strong riff is the longest song on the album ‘Voodoo’, with a haunting vocal and backing vocal from Vescara. As expected album opener ‘Vengeance’ is a full-on assault in the classic Yngwie style as is ‘Fire In The Sky’.
MAGNUM OPUS had a really nice balance of fast songs, slow songs, more epic sounding songs, great performances and great production and the whole thing bolstered by one of Vescara’s finer vocal displays in his long and prolific career. If you missed this one in Yngwie’s catalogue, don’t overlook it, and get the original with the cool cover, but for trivia hounds there are four different album covers for MAGNUM OPUS. Collect all four!