For close to 25 years now, Swedish-born legend Yngwie Malmsteen has awed audiences worldwide with his groundbreaking brand of classical-style heavy metal and distinct approach to guitar playing. Whether it be slick, sweeping arpeggio riffs or lightning-quick shredding (which at times hard rock critics thought was a little overdone at the expense of stronger songwriting), Malmsteen has nonetheless earned irrevocable praise in the world of all things metal and electric guitar.
Always a mix of instrumentals and some vocal-led tracks, his mid-‘80s records, Rising Force, Marching Out and Trilogy are among many of hard rock and Malmsteen’s most celebrated and educational releases, as they had guitarists learning not only his highly technical neo-classical structured rock but also rediscovering classical artists that influenced the guitarist’s work, including Bach, Beethoven and 19th-century composer Niccolo Paganini. In this regard, what Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore – another big influence – and Randy Rhoads started before him, Malmsteen took to a new and exciting level.
For much of the 1990s, Malmsteen continued to make records, but they were largely ignored by mainstream audiences in the U.S. who got sick of hearing the same old big-haired shred metal and instead embraced a new generation of more pop-oriented hard rock and punk rock. But in this decade, starting with 2002’s Attack!! CD, the guitarist slowly but surely recaptured much of the popularity and praise within the metal world he enjoyed twenty odd years ago. 2008’s speed metal-inspired Perpetual Flame album, just released last month on Rising Force Records, is no exception. It has been considered by many fans and critics to be among Malmsteen’s most aggressive and best albums of his career. Thus, he has been a much sought after musician, both in concert and off-stage.
On the afternoon of Saturday, November 8, Yngwie Malmsteen kindly took a few minutes of his time to answer several questions by phone from New York City, NY, about his latest projects and happenings. They include his new album, recent tour, and a new limited edition Malmsteen Tribute “Play Loud” Fender Stratocaster made by the company’s Custom Shop master builder John Cruz. It comes out November 28 and only 100 of those guitars have been made, he repeatedly emphasized to me in the interview.