Yngwie J. Malmsteen, “Rising Force”, by Grant Stoner

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My album pic for this month is “Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force. Polydor records, 1984 vinyl.

Continuing my occasional series of guitar hero records, may I introduce Yngwie. Next to Hendrix and Eddie VanHalen, Yngwie ushered in a new era of guitar playing. Being heavily influenced by classical composers, notably Bach and Paganini, he started the “neo- classical” school of guitar playing.

I’ve followed Yngwie’s career ever since seeing him in Mike Barney’s spotlight column in Guitar Player magazine in the early 80’s. Moving from Sweden to the US, he played in Steeler and Alcatrazz, then in ’84 released this seminal album which he had complete control over. Mostly instrumental, it is a tour de Force of virtuoustic guitar playing. He really is like Paganini on guitar, extreme speed, exotic scales and a total showman. Back in the day there was a t-shirt that said on the front “Yngwie who?”, and on the back: “Yngwie F’ing Malmsteen that’s who!”. 

The sound of the album is good, with a dark gothic reverb sound that sounds like it was recorded in a cathedral, (but probably not). A few standout songs, “Black Star” starts with an acoustic intro, then a drum, bass, keyboard vamp that builds and sounds like a medieval knight brigade venturing forth into battle. “Far Beyond the Sun” is the definite highlight tho. One of the most extreme guitar songs you’ll hear, yet still melodic. His  technique doesn’t get in the way of beautiful harmonic content.

Classical fans might even like this, what would be considered a ” heavy metal” record. Yngwie yeah, raise your fist!

San Francisco Audiophile Society

San Francisco Audiophile Society