War To End All Wars

Yngwie J. Malmsteen

Spitfire Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/07/2000

Although I'm familiar with Yngwie Malmsteen's work, having heard his playing since he started his solo career in 1984 (and seeing him open for AC/DC in 1985), I can't say that I'm well-schooled in his entire discography. I'm certain I'm missing an album or two from his discography, despite the fact my publicist friends were nice enough to send me the latest reissues of Malmsteen's "forgotten" releases from the '90s.

But after listening to an advance copy of War To End All Wars, Malmsteen's upcoming release, it's almost like I'm listening to an incomplete picture. It's almost as if you need to be familiar with everything that Malmsteen has done to this point to understand where he's coming from musically. If you're not as well-versed, you're left with a rather confusing picture.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Recorded with vocalist Mark Boals (who just recently announced his departure from the band, according to Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles), Malmsteen continues to crank out the classical-influenced metal that he's made a career out of - and I'm not suggesting that's a bad thing. Malmsteen still remains one of the most exciting guitarists fighting for your entertainment dollar. But as this album proves, such an approach can easily be hit-or-miss.

Take, for example, "Prophet Of Doom," a song whose Queen-like harmony vocals and John Macaluso's thrash-style drum work make this track stand out. It might not have the same kind of magic as Malmsteen's earlier hits, but it has its own unique charm that makes it equally special. (If you're wondering how anyone could play a bass riff with the same lightning speed as the guitar line, just look at the credits... Malmsteen handles all the bass work. 'Nuff said.) Ditto goes for "Bad Reputation," a song which almost sounds like it could have come from any of a number of other bands, albeit without the classical riffs from Malmsteen.

Then, there are the experiments that don't work as well. One such example is "Tarot," a song which occasionally strikes my fancy just for Malmsteen's riffage. Other tracks, such as "Masquerade" or "Wizard," have the technical expertise, but they lack any real emotion lyrically, and they don't allow the listener to really connect with them on the level that Malmsteen et al. would have liked them to.

Malmsteen's instrumental work, naturally, is without peer; selections like "Arpegios From Hell" and "Prelude" all are just more wonderful padding to Malmsteen's musical resume.

Maybe part of the problem with War To End All Wars is that it comes on the tail end of a period in Malmsteen's career where his work wasn't getting noticed in America. Now that the bulk of those discs are out on the market, people can play one major game of "catch-up". Maybe then, War To End All Wars will sound more "in place" with the rest of Malmsteen's discography. On its own, it has its moments, but it comes off sounding like a painting which is only half-complete.

Rating: C+

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Spitfire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.