Yngwie J. Malmsteen
World On Fire
Released: 2016, King Records
I almost choose to review this album as my 2000th album review but decided to go with a book review about one of my favourite albums of all time, DESTROYER by Kiss. Instead, I launch into my next 1000 album reviews with a review of the brand new CD by my favourite guitarist of all time, Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Oddly enough, in a nice and unplanned co-incidence, I’m writing this review on June 30th, his 53rd birthday. Happy Birthday Yngwie!
WORLD ON FIRE is Yngwie’s 20th studio album and was first released in Japan on June 1st, 2016. The cover is classic Yngwie, a shot of him and his guitar and it nicely falls into the style and motif of the last two studio albums, RELENTLESS and SPELLBOUND. The presentation is decent, a short booklet, lyrics and it comes with a sticker as well.
It has been a long, long wait, four years since the last album and interestingly enough the longest he has gone between albums, ever. However, it was well worth the wait. Perhaps the time spent between albums inspired him a bit because this is his strongest album in years. Keeping in mind I give virtually every Yngwie album a high score of five out of five so use your discretion and take my bias into full account!
Some people have commented, even complained about the production of the past few self-produced studio albums and I can understand that, but on WORLD he seems to have corrected some of the thin sound and brought the bass up front more and has a more even mix. It sounds great, better than the last few I’ll admit! Again he writes and plays everything except the drums that were laid down by Florida native Mark Ellis and again the new album is self-produced in Studio 308 right in his mansion. He keeps it compact with a 45 minute run time compared to the last albums which were in the hour range, perhaps trimming what some critics might call filler.
Yngwie sings on three of the eleven songs, and his voice is getting stronger. As mentioned in a pre-release interviews, he tries to sing in a bit more of a Power Metal style, rather than his natural, bluesy, raspy voice and it work very well. He will never be as naturally talented as Soto, Boals, Turner, Edman, Leven, Vescara etc, but this is his best vocal performance. Musically, Yngwie puts his signature style on full display with stunning examples of virtuosity and technicality. It’s Yngwie. What more do you need? Pure, neo-classical shred bliss. He won’t change, we don’t want him too as he delivers simple, catchy songs that are a structural framework, a delivery system if you will for the guitar solo. He also dabbles on the acoustic, the sitar and even the cello for atmosphere especially on ‘Largo-EBM’. The songs are largely fast with the few exceptions and most fans of instrumental guitar driven Metal will find something to enjoy with this high-octane and energetic album.
For me, WORLD ON FIRE is another perfect Yngwie album.