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Yngwie Malmsteen - Rising Force: Odyssey CD (album) cover


Yngwie Malmsteen


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3.47 | 73 ratings

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4 stars The Other End of Yngwie

Oh how meister shred wanted to be a rock star. From the costumes, the persona, the posing, clearly Mr. Malmsteen desperately wanted to hit the big time. While Yngwie's legacy really could have been established by his debut album alone, he continued to make albums for decades more. For good or bad, this later sound was enormously influential on what was to become the genres of prog metal and power metal. As a shred head in the 1980's I devoured everything Malmsteen did up through the early 90's. However, I would offer that 20 years later, you need only two albums, the seminal debut and this album, which is Malmsteen's best "mainstream" offering. I bought this album when it was first released and at the time Yngwie made no bones about it being a publicity grab. While the previous two albums had been moving more and more in this direction, ODYSSEY is where everything really fell together. Adding Rainbow alum Joe Lynn Turner made for some of the best Power-Pop in Yngwie's catalog. While some bemoan Turner's pop sensibilities, his sense of melody really helped Yngwie's compositions progress past earlier tries at vocal music.

Unlike the debut, where the vocal songs are just laughably bad, there really are some viable full band songs on this album. The best is the opener "Rising Force" which has a kicking main riff, a great raise-your-fist style lyric (about the only thing this crew could viably write about), and a jaw-dropping solo. "Dreaming (Tell Me)" is a power ballad typical of the time in feel, but musically more interesting than the songs that were on the radio. Yngwie sprinkles the song with some classical ideas and tonality, and it's one of the few 80's power ballads I can still listen to. "Hold On" and "Heaven Tonight" aren't nearly as good but the instrumentals "Bite the Bullett," "Krakatau," and "Memories" make up for them easily.

Of course, the main point of any Yngwie album is to listen to the guitars wail. By Odyssey, Malmsteen actually had progressed from his initial bag of tricks and was much more musical in his application of his technique. In addition, the interplay of Yngwie and keyboardist Jens Johannson was well established, and the sound and style of the solo sections here became a template for countless metal bands to follow. I remember thinking at the time that the keyboard player was just as good as Yngwie, though no one seemed to mention him. I wasn't alone. Not surprisingly, Johannson has went on to be a valuable piece of other bands where really Malmsteen peaked here on this album.

Yngwie hoped this would be the album that brought him to the spotlight. It didn't. But it really was a high point for his entire body of work, post-instrumental debut. While "Trilogy" and "Marching Out" were pointing in this direction, when I listen to all the modern shred guitarists across European metal, this is the album I hear. Enormously influential, I would place ODYSSEY as an essential part of the history of metal. As prog, it's still an excellent addition to anyone's collection.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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