A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to speak directly with guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen (see link below). We agreed that 2008 was quickly developing into a very special year for him. First, he had just finished the highly successful European leg of his tour and was just about to begin dates in North America. Also, he was about to be inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk an achievement that he described as ‘humbling’. Not only that, but he has also teamed up with the Fender Custom Shop to release an updated limited edition Yngwie signature model.
Now to cap it all off we have the release of his latest album Perpetual Flame (Rising Force Records, October 2008). During the interview I asked Yngwie about the album’s title. "I guess the clue is in the title of the album, Perpetual Flame. That fire is still burning in you…", to which he replied, "That’s very perceptive of you. That is exactly what I wanted to say with the album. Thanks for picking up on it."
If anyone needs confirmation that the fire does indeed still burn then the first thirty seconds of the album’s opener “Death Dealer” will confirm it in huge great neon letters. Teaming up with ex-Judas Priest singer Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens for the first time has proved to be something of a match made in Yngwie heaven. If ever a vocalist could deliver the sheer passion and power alongside his guitar then Tim has to be that man.
“Death Dealer” comes with all the classical undercurrent that has become his trademark. The first scream from Owens marks his arrival in real style. “Damnation Game” with its opening riff to match its title continues the pace without pausing for breath. The dark, sinister, “Live To Fight” starts off with a Black Sabbath style bell tolling in the distance.
“Red Devil”, a more straight-on heavy rock number, has the Ripper ion great form. The rest of the band is made up of Michael Troy on keys, Bjorn Englen on bass, and Patrick Johnsson Continuing as drummer . The rave reviews from the European tour confirm their credentials.
“Four Horsemen” has Yngwie riding his Fender at characteristically breakneck speed. “Priest Of The Unholy” and “Be Careful What You Wish For” keep the pace and momentum going.
During that same interview I asked him if there was anything technically more difficult on the album. The answer was the instrumental pieces. Sure enough, “Caprici Di Diablo”, loaded with classical overtones, sounds physically impossible to play. It goes without saying that Yngwie somehow pulls it off with all his usual lightning speed. “Lament” has that richness of sound and remarkable precision that is so familiar to fans of him. It too is an instrumental in the classical tradition and with the same complexity as its predecessor. It follows on superbly with the pair marking an album highlight.
“Eleventh Hour” has The Ripper, back on vocals with a lusciously eastern vibe. It has you dreaming of minarets, sand, heat, and mystery. “Heavy Heart” takes us back into the instrumental as only, and I mean only, Yngwie can play them. The atmospheric “Magic City” ends the album magnificently.
The second half of Perpetual Flame is particularly strong and contains many classic, please excuse the pun, examples of Yngwie’s undeniable mastery. The instrumental tracks will underline just how on fire the man is.
He seemed pleased when I mentioned the significance of Perpetual Flame’s title. Having heard it, I can see why. It confirms in no uncertain terms that Yngwie Malmsteen still has the passion, energy, drive, and incredible technical ability to produce some utterly sublime treasures.
Despite his endearing modesty, when he is inducted onto that Rock Walk it is no more than he deserves. He is without doubt one of the all time guitar legends and this album adds further weight to his already huge reputation. Thanks Yngwie.