(TheBRHM.com) We touched on neoclassical and one artist mentioned was 80s guitar virtuoso and neoclassical metal pioneer Yngwie J. Malmsteen. The Swedish metal legend got his start in 1978 and released three demos with his power trio band before being scooped up by Shrapnel Records and hooked up with the U.S band Steeler to record their self-titled debut which released in 1983. He would leave later that year and join Alcatrazz for their 1983 debut album No Parole from Rock N Roll.
What a wonderful album title.
In 1984, Malmsteen would leave Alcatrazz and release his full-length debut Rising Force, named for his band Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force. However, this review isn’t about the titular debut album, it’s about the fourth release from 1988, Odyssey.
Old School Review: Yngwie Malmsteen – Odyssey
To explain Rising Force and why it rips would be difficult. The main thing to know is that we have a good amount of tracks with lyrical content. On that note, up until he decided to do the vocal duties himself in 2012, Malmsteen always managed to land a strong lead singer for albums.
Odyssey is no exception as respected vocal veteran Joe Lynn Turner handles the singing. Heading into Rising Force, Turner had just finished up the hard rock band Rainbow. Like other singers of this period, he wouldn’t be with the band for long—just for this album, actually.
The album opens with “Rising Force” which is an awesome song packed with speed and energy. This is the kind of song that I’d say a band should always start with unless there’s a theme to the album. Other than that, start the album with the vocal cranked to 11 and just shredding and wailing for a few minutes.
See, the opening track is like the opening match on an MMA card or for a wrestling event. It’s supposed to set the pace of the album and either let the listener know what kind of party this is going to be or just warm the listener up for an experience.
Believe me, Odyssey is something of an experience. At times, it’s even a wild ride! “Hold On” is more of a solid rock song and I don’t know about this placement. It’s not bad in the sense that “Rising Force” was a speeder at over four minutes. This would cool things down without boring the listener. Turner’s performance here really made me accept the placement because he manages to nudge it into the ballad space—which works since this was a more mainstream release for Yngwie Malmsteen and Rising Force.
“Heaven Tonight” and “Dreaming (Tell Me)” are very similar to “Hold On” but have a little more oomph to them speed-wise. We’re not talking more “Rising Force” action, folks. Still they’re good as follow ups. A short, brisk instrumental track breaks up the tunes until “Riot in the Dungeons” hits! This is the return of that “Rising Force” approach of speed and anthemic vocals. I thoroughly enjoyed this one just as much as I enjoyed the opener.
“Deja Vu” is a solid song with some oomph to it but was followed by “Crystal Ball” which I felt was only so-so. It’s not as if it’s out of place on the album, it just isn’t in the right place. If you just let the album play, “Crystal Ball” and the “Now Is the Time” are fine tracks in that they do their job in adding to the entire listening experience.
When you actually look at the tracks and listen to digest—some placement shuffling probably would’ve helped. The last song on Odyssey is “Faster Than the Speed of Light” which does have a bit of a motor to it. The album closes out on two instrumentals. “Krakatau” is the stronger instrumental and has a lot of everything to it. I will say that at over six minutes, it look as though it might be pushing it on the time, but this song kept me engaged. “Memories” was kind of just there after the awe of “Krakatua”.
Stand Out Tracks: Rising Force**, Riot in the Dungeons**, Heaven Tonight
Besides the track placement, Odyssey wasn’t a bad album at all. This album was definitely a more commercial attempt with the hard rock-type songs but we still got our Malmateen ripfest and Joe Lynn Turner’s explosive vocals. The combo and a strong bass and drum game made the songs work regardless of their placement.
Another strength of this album over the previous releases is that there is variety and that it’s not half or majority shred tracks. Again, the band were making an attempt at the mainstream audience and instrumentals probably wouldn’t have gotten the job done.
Grade: Solid Album
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.