Brother Blogcritic Berkeley Jones wrote a soaring review for the new Yngwie Malmsteen album Unleash the Fury. "Yngwie Forced me to Rise, your Honor, & I'd feel violated if I weren't so satisfied" sure made the thing sound pretty exhilirating. Pretty good little bit of writing- good enough to make me hunt down the album.
I've heard of this guy for years, but I'm generally not a big audience for things veering toward heavy metal. Still, Yngwie's album "proceeds to pillage the village, burn it to the ground, kill all the orcs & trolls and gallop out of town with an authentic Norwegian Smiting sword strapped to its back, the bounty of a persistent battle with passing fads, radio whores, and wistful gazes on soft candles. None of that is permitted nor given relief from annihilation within these walls." Starts to sound interesting. I could go for a little smiting after listening to this damned Mariah Carey foolishness this week.
Alas, Joe's review does me more good than the album itself. It was just about what I'd expect from general descriptions and one or two tracks I'd heard long ago. The whole construct is just a setup for some fancy guitar playing.
The basic problem is lack of decent songs. I can pretty well guarantee that no one will be trying to cover any of these songs. They just are not memorable, and they all pretty much sound just exactly alike.
Still, I can at least partway see what Yngwie's fans might see in him. He's a world class guitar athlete. He plays the heavy metal stuff, plays it hard and fast and precise, with just a little twist of European classical influence. I would tend to be skeptical of trying to incorporate the classical stuff into rock, but he does it here without making too much offense against geometry and theology. He's got very good agility and control. In a limited sense at least, this is fairly technically accomplished. If screaming guitar just really gets you off, you might likely enjoy it.
For one way of looking at it, I would take this over most Metallica. The black album was a real classic with actual worthwhile songs, but other than that one shining moment, Yngwie here seems more appealing. There's some very broad similarity, hard rock to heavy metal range guitar music, but Yngwie's certainly a lot fancier player than any of those guys. Yngwie's made an outstanding example of a type of thing that I don't mostly care about personally.
Whereas Audioslave's Out of Exile is a mediocre example of a type of thing closer to home for me. Actually, it's several types of things closer to me, but not really anything in particular. That's not good. Listening to it again, I can't quite get anything stylistically distinctive whatsoever to hang the thing on.
Now, that could be a good thing to not be able to label a record. For example, what genre of music was The Lion and the Cobra? It's a highly unique and personal set of sounds going out several directions at once that is difficult to describe with simple labels.
This Audioslave album however just is so indistinct that it doesn't really qualify as anything at all. It has loud guitars and some softer guitars and some kind of okay melodies. About the closest thing that comes to mind stylistically is watered down Pearl Jam- which is already not a particularly distinctive sound.
The first couple or three songs here are perhaps almost strong enough that after a couple of careful listenings I can almost remember how they go while I'm actually listening to them. That's more than I've ever gotten out of Rage Against the Machine.
Probably the best track here is "Doesn't Remind Me." It's at least halfway to catchy. "I like hammering nails and speaking in tongues, cause it doesn't remind me of anything." There are several bits of lyrical suggestion of religious stuff like that, but none of it seems to go anywhere. It doesn't really seem to mean much emotionally nor quite make sense lyrically, but it's kind of halfway got a hook, I suppose.
Out of Exile could be said to have a more varied palette than the Yngwie, but it's just not that good in any direction. It's a bland vanilla pudding of generic alternative college rock. Revelation 3:16 - "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Yngwie kinda leaves me cold, but at least he's a hot guitar player.
Music Sustains the Soul
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