Next review: » Yngwie Malmsteen - Attack!!
Released: 2002, Pony Canyon / SPV
Yngwie J. Malmsteen is back for the attack with a new album and yet another new singer in tow. This time on the pipes is Doogie White who was once in Rainbow with one of Yngwie’s idols, Ritchie Blackmore.
Before I talk about some of the actual songs on Yngwie’s new opus, here’s some general thoughts on the album overall. First of all, a lot of you are wondering what new vocalist Doogie White will be like. Well to be honest he sounds not too far removed from Mark Boals. The other member of the band who some will be anxious to hear is keyboardist Derek Sherinian. Well if I wouldn’t of read the CD credits I would of never guessed someone with his level of playing ability was on here. Sure there are a few interesting moments but not what you’d expect with someone who you could call the “Yngwie” of the keyboard realm. A lot of fans and critics complained about the production on Yngwie’s last album that he produced himself, WAR TO END ALL WARS. Well someone listened, because the sound has greatly improved, even though it could still be a little bit better in some places I think! If you have been a long time fan of Yngwie and you count ODYSSEY or ECLIPSE as your favorite Yngwie albums, then you’ll love this. For me, these are my least favorite Yngwie albums, so ATTACK!! is not exactly what I was hoping for.
Since I’ve been listening to Yngwie since the very early 80’s, I always have a lot to say about one of his albums. I’ll try to keep this short but I know it will be a bit long winded! On first listen to ATTACK!! I was disappointed by the opening two tracks "Razor Eater" and "Rise Up." "Razor Eater" begins with some very nice doubled guitar runs that are repeated later in the song. The song itself though is quite slow and the riffs don't really grab me. New vocalist Doogie White is not too bad but he's not belting it out, sounding a little laid back. The guitar solo on this one is of course jaw dropping and if you only listen to Yngwie for his leads, you'll like this one. However, I listen to Yngwie for the whole picture. He has written great SONGS that are not just a bland shell for his godly lead playing. Sadly, this song sounds is uninspired. "Rise Up" is a more of an up-tempo track that hints at what I'm looking for. Believe it or not, I think the guitars should have been louder on this one!! The drums sound a bit strange here as well. Yes they are fast with the double kicks and all, but the symbols ring along sounding like one big mess. Weird!! On the album’s third track things begin to greatly improve. That song being "Valley of the Kings." Here we have much better vocal melodies. The tempo is slow paced, sounding a little bit like Dio-era Rainbow in a couple of places. The solo section is as expected amazing and begins in typical Yngwie fashion. Behind the solo the guitar sound a bit like a Sitar. This is one of the album's better tracks! "Ship of Fools" begins in typical Yngwie neo-classical style but the 2nd main riff in the song not typical Yngwie though, pretty neat. Again, this song should have been placed at the beginning because the opening two tracks do leave a bit of a bad taste in your mouth. The album’s title track, “Attack", is a bit heavier and has some nice minor key sounding melodies. What's with the chorus on this one though huh? Sounds like some demon blurting out "Attack" (sounds more like "tack" hmmm…) out of the blue. It didn't fit, but I'll overlook it since the rest of the song is killer stuff. Once again, I gotta mention the solo in this one, it's extra godly and totally fucking rips!! The amusingly titled "Baroque and Roll" is an instrumental filled with godly playing from Mr. Malmsteen. This is not as memorable as the classic "Black Star" though. A main reason for this is because this one is nearly all shred and soloing. There is not much of an effort to create a repeated or overly catchy melody line, or an attempt to make the guitar fill in for the vocals. So depending on what approach you like for an instrumental, you'll either love or hate this one. I love it of course, because in the lead guitar department it is impossible for Yngwie to do any wrong! One could argue that he could use a little help in the song-writing department from time to time though. Another interesting track is "Mad Dog" which opens with an open stringed riff that is very cool, then it cuts into a Ratt meets Dokken riff. Strange combination but it does work. On the outro there is a bizarre sounding organ solo. Imagine a Deep Purple Hammond organ playing neo-classical shred...like I said, bizarre! Next on the album we move into some material that didn’t do a lot for me beginning with "In The Name of God.” This has a very silly chorus, not just because of the name of the song but it also has equally silly lyrics and a weak chorus. Then there is "Freedom" or as I’ll call it “Spanish Castle Magic part 2 “ or “the blues song” with Yngwie on vocals. Not at all what I like to hear Yngwie playing. Sure he can wail while playing the blues, but I'm not that into this style at all. Also to add to the collection of tracks that didn’t move me is the second instrumental of the album called "Majestic Blue." The playing is basically noodleing and it’s just a slow and boring track. Things again pick up with "Valhalla" – this is not the first time there's been a Viking theme in an Yngwie song, and he's done it better before. Not that this song is that bad. It actually is pretty good. If Yngwie is gonna rip someone off, why not rip himself off huh? Well that’s the theory behind "Touch The Sky" - You don't remember I'll never forget that I've heard this before.
Overall the heaviness factor is taken down a notch on ATTACK!!, to the detriment of the album as a whole in my opinion. The lead playing is as expected something I can't criticize at all since Yngwie is still one of the best lead guitarists out there period. For sure ATTACK!! is not going to win over new fans, but it will appease long time fans like myself who know what to expect from an Yngwie album.
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Next review: » Yngwie Malmsteen - Facing The Animal
Released: 2002, Sony
My favorite guitarist of all time is experiencing a resurgence of sorts. The enormous popularity of the G-3 Tour of North America (of which YJM was a huge part) helped secure him a proper major label North American release for this album, now almost two-years old. His label mates Vai and Satriani, impressed by his prowess, went to bat for him, and lo and behold this CD gets the re-issue treatment in North America with two bonus tracks. You know you are in good company when Vai and Satriani sing your praises in public!
ATTACK!! is classic Malmsteen. From the poor album cover to the substandard packaging all the familiar elements are here. I mean…The SEVENTH SIGN had a close-up of his nose…now this one had a close up of his eye?! Gimme a break! In 20 years he has had only one or two cool album covers, specifically WAR TO END ALL WARS. No lyrics, no photos of the band are par for the course these days. I’m guessing the other pressings have all the extra goodies, as this version seems kinda low budget.
This CD has tons of great songs, (including the almost obligatory Egyptian themed ‘Valley of The Kings’), great vocals courtesy of Dougie and of course that magical, wonderful guitar. It truly impressive how Yngwie finds and attracts singers of the highest caliber across the globe who make their name with him and go on to careers with other things. Dougie is YJM singer #8 (including Jorn Lande who never recorded with the band) and he fits the mold perfectly. Range, power, passion he has it all and I’m sure he could this stuff in his sleep.
Yngwie did it first and best and continues to do so. Attack has a slightly more neo-classical feel in my mind than the last few, very slightly less ‘metal’ than ALCHEMY, better production and songs than WAR, and less commercial than FACING THE ANIMAL. A perfect blend of the three previous studio releases and another triumph.
1. Razor Eater
2. Rise Up
3. Valley Of The Kings
4. Ship Of Fools
6. Baroque & Roll
8. Mad Dog
9. In The Name Of God
10. Freedom Isn’t Free
11. Majestic Blue
13. Iron Clad
Yngwie J. Malmsteen-Guitar, Bass
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