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HARDWARES

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

Spellbound

(Universal Japan)

Reviewed by : Mark Gromen
Rating : 7.0

Can’t believe he hasn’t used this title before, it being so apropos for his playing style. Anyway, for the first time in his career, the fleet-fingered Swede steps up to the mic, adding vocals himself. Seems Relentless / Perpetual Flame singer Tim “Ripper” Owens’ multiple outlets conflicted with Malmsteen’s timetable for recording (Tim told me as much, himself, back in June, at Metallica’s two-day event in Atlantic City, NJ). So how does Yngwie sound, fronting his own neo-classical compositions? Well, he’s never really up front in the mix. ‘Repent’ sees the syncopated double bass drums beating alongside his first (in running order) foray into vocals. ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’ is a slower, bluesy number, where the Viking can be heard more easily. It fits his voice, which is smooth (and apparently double-tracked), far from terrible. Speaking of blues, there’s also a keyboard accompanied ‘Iron Blues’ instrumental, whereas ‘Poisoned Mind’ is a gritty, heavier number, complete with lyrics. However, love him or hate him (and I’m guess a lot of detractors will have more ammunition regarding ego trips and vocals, misguided as those “facts” might be), parlor tricks are not what one expects, nor buys Yngwie Malmsteen product for, that’s sweeping guitar runs and orchestral-based speed metal. Like ‘Majestic 12 Suite 1, 2 & 3’, ‘God Of War’ or the familiar, yet updated (and neatly entitled, albeit nothing more than a snippet length) ‘Turbo Amadeus’. ‘From A Thousand Cuts’ ends with the crash of a cymbal, most un-Malmsteen. Maybe he’s finally seen the light (tonight?). Some editions (including Japan) feature a DVD bonus, with the mainman discussing the songs/recording process, as well as some “making of”/in-studio footage.



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