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Yngwie Malmsteen – Perpetual Flame

Label: Rising Force Records
Format: CD
Released: 2008
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Yngwie is one of my all time favorite guitarists and his first four solo albums (1984’s “Rising Force” and 85’s “Marching Out” featured soon to be talent Jeff Scott Solo on vocals, “Trilogy”, and “Odyssey” in 1988 with Joe Lynn Tuner at the mic) to this day not only see spins often in my cd player and Ipod, but are regarded by critics, fans, and his peers as classics.

His brand of Neoclassical heavy metal guitar is a style unto himself. “Eclipse” in 1990 and “Fire and Ice” (1992) both saw Yngwie’s sound going in a more commercial (and Medieval) direction begun on the album “Odyssey”.
During the 90’s, Yngwie released a trilogy of solid albums, “The Seventh Sign” from 1994, 1995’s “Magnum Opus” both with Mike Vescera on vocals, and “Facing the Animal” in 1997 featuring the drumming talents of the late Cozy Powell. Throw in a couple “Live” albums and one of covers called “Inspiration”.

What followed is a bit shaky. I think from the album “Alchemy” on (which includes 2000’s “War To End All Wars”, “Attack”, and “Unleash the Fury” in 05), Malmsteen started recycling riffs and arrangement ideas hitting a creative slump. Also, album production went down the tubes.

With “Perpetual Flame”, there appears to be a reinvigorated Yngwie playing the Stratocaster. Still, given his style after a while all this can start to sound the same, and I agree. But again, you can’t deny the legendary status of those first four albums from the 80s. “Death Dealer” and “Damnation Game” both while are a heavier more aggressive Yngwie unfortunately contain those recycled riffs. “Red Devil” is a solid 80’s style rocker all the way.

You ask who is singing?? Well it’s none other than Tim Owens, the former voice of Judas Priest and Iced Earth. Tim gives the songs more edge and his voice fits well with Yngwie’s playing. He’s a great singer. So how can’t it work? Well only if you have shitty songs, haha. “Perpetual Flame” actually brings me back a bit to the album “Trilogy” in a song like “Priests Of The Unholy” with the excellent keyboard/complimenting guitars, as with “Eleventh Hour” which is one of my favorites. For both tunes the keyboards add welcomed dynamics.

Instrumental “Caprici Di Diablo” is probably Yngwie’s most over the top self indulgent piece of work yet, filled with scales and arpeggios galore but yet its missing one essential ingredient, that’s the heart and melody, something Yngwie NEVER forgot about in his younger years. O wait, there’s the melody at the start of “Magic City” where Yngwie also sings and for closing instrumental “Heavy Heart”.

“Perpetual Flame” is Yngwie doing what he does. Its nothing earth shattering or ground breaking musically but definitely his best album in ten years. Now, since he doesn’t hold on to a singer consecutively for more than two albums, will Tim be back??
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