It is very safe to say that the genius of guitarist Eddie Van Halen inspired many similar and some great, some not-so-great, shred guitarists in the 1980s in particular. Although Yngwie Malmsteen was active musically prior to the release of the first Van Halen album in early 1978, he was no doubt inspired and influenced by EVH. In any case, after gigging with bands Alcatrazz and Steeler, he eventually assembled a band of his own and released this groundbreaking debut album. The Swedish guitarist, reborn as a proud USA resident, made an impression. Let’s hear it.
We begin this album with Black Star which begins with some nimble acoustic guitar playing, which incorporates harmonics. This piece then gets underway, with some awesome semi-shred playing, guitar violining, straightforward rhythm section and memorable melodies. A truly brilliant piece of Classical music inspired Metal, this is nothing but legendary. It sounds wonderfully played and very emotional here, and just sounds fresh, intelligent, well played and inspired with some memorable riffs galore. Yngwie’s solo here is really amazing sounding, playing fast and crazy fills without verging into Thrash Metal or similar musical styles here under the uniform Metal genre. A really awesome and unique piece of a mixture of styles, Yngwie Malmsteen, at least at this point, had substance and great music. A wonderful piece of original music with a melancholy feel to it, this is truly amazing. Great stuff by Yngwie Malmsteen. It has a haunting outro.
Next here is Far Beyond The Sun which begins with some awesome guitar shredding and pounding drum beats, showcasing a truly impressive talent that Yngwie Malmsteen (at least at this point) was. Really supercharged like a proper V8 supercar, our Swedish maestro makes a definite impression here. Great stuff, and this piece of music does the job nicely. Yngwie may be the possible reincarnation of one of the Classical greats of legend today (Bach, Beethoven or Mozart). He plays with purpose and feeling, and the band here support him 100% of the way. Fresh, energetic and brilliant. In the second half, an awesome Progressive Rock keyboard solo is here, followed quickly by guitar shredding by Yngwie as a call-and-response sort of thing. Brilliant effort, this album is no doubt a true classic here. Awesome piece of clever and original music, towards the end Yngwie Malmsteen plays some really insane shredding. Great effort, this sounds really top and awesome. Solid music nonetheless from start to finish, the Metal apocalypse is here, ready to take you away. It ends with keyboard organ. Awesome piece of music.
Now Your Ships Are Burned begins with a counted intro and a weird riff, with a tight rhythm section behind Yngwie’s guitar playing. Singing gets underway and this piece gets kicking along and sounds really amazing. The lyricism here is not that different to the sort of thing on Metallica’s Master Of Puppets album. Yngwie Malmsteen plays really fantastically here, making use of a huge amount of clever and interesting techniques for the listen. Dramatic sounds and finesse of performance abound here, making this piece sound extraordinary. Some intense and wonderful extended guitar shredding continues for some time, prior to Deep Purple styled vocals entering this piece here. A really cool listen from start to finish, Yngwie sounds truly incredible here, and unstoppable at this point. It finishes with a pseudo-Classical music conclusion, very nice.
Evil Eye is next here, beginning with some gorgeous dual tracked acoustic guitars, before launching straight into the music here. Once again, this is really fun, incredible and amazing listening from Yngwie Malmsteen and co, just presenting a really high quality and amazing sounding piece of music. There is shredding galore on both electric and acoustic guitar parts here which sounds impressive and fresh, even decades after it was recorded. There is a cool section in the middle which has stop/start motions, before continuing on. Really great and fine listening, the piece eventually goes into a very Neo-Classical Metal midsection, before recommencing some absolutely amazing shredding. Way to go, Yngwie Malmsteen. A truly impressive listening experience from start to finish. Towards the end are some neat shred guitar parts, before finishing up in a really top way. It ends with eerie piano and keyboard on the fade out, a great song nonetheless.
Next here is Icarus’ Dream Suite Op. 4 which begins with double bass kick led drum rolls and energetic guitar playing. Shortly into it, some odd textures from keyboards and guitars enter, sounding very apocalyptic. A cool piece of music nonetheless, this is really interesting stuff. Some slower and more melodic playing is here, but even so, is done amazingly well. A really dynamic, interesting and incredible piece of music, this is totally cool. A neo-Classical acoustic guitar riff eventually enters, driving this piece along nicely. Really awesome listening, this is a joy to hear. Eventually, the band with electric guitars kicks in, and we are away in Yngwie Malmsteen based musical heaven here. A truly legendary and amazing listen, there are some expertly mixed guitars here, which Yngwie plays unlike anyone else. This song is split into different sections, making it an interesting, intelligent and varied listen. Does Metal rule? Oh, yes, it does. Yngwie Malmsteen helped keep the genre burning alive. Towards the end is some catchy fingerpicked acoustic guitar that sounds truly great. A fine and fresh inspired listen, this is super cool. Excellent song by the group. Extremely good.
Following is As Above, So Below which begins with thunderous Classical inspired organ, which is different and powerful listening. Some awesome guitar riffing then enters, which is wonderfully played by Yngwie Malmsteen. Soon enough, a piece about the perceptions of heaven and hell is here, and the singing here on this song is fantastic, sounding quite like Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. A really awesome and majestic piece of well played music, Yngwie puts himself in a category of his own with his super shred styled playing. Intricacies here are a plenty, with the whole band putting out an amazing performance here. Fantastic sounding piece that is very accessible and wonderful listening here, a standout from the album with an awesome finish. Great song.
Little Savage begins with some awesome drum rolls, before launching into a more groove based piece by the group and Yngwie’s super great shredding here takes the spotlight. A very good instrumental with some really top playing by all, this is a supersonic effort by the whole group. A blistering piece of original and interesting music, this is moving, emotion and precisely delivered by Yngwie Malmsteen and his band. A harpsichord solo is here as well, which is a nice change from the typical environment of Yngwie’s shredding. A surprise twist in the middle of this song changes tempo and approach from the band, just sounding really fine and great. More superb electric guitar shredding goes on, before a fine outro emerges to finish off everything here. Awesome tune from start to finish, it has a dramatic outro.
Farewell is the last piece here. It has some great acoustic guitar playing, fingerpicked away nicely and excellently, with some great harmonics that are brilliant. It finishes the album nicely.
This is a near perfect combination of Classical Music, Heavy Metal, Shred and Rock. If you dig any of those genres and enjoy super fast playing, this is no doubt a suitable album for your listening pleasure. Unfortunately, it is only available to hear on YouTube at the time of writing but all the same, sounds totally amazing. A great album, without question.
If you liked the article and would like to support the author in his musical review quest, please donate to show your support. Thank you for your consideration. Chris Airey