Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yngwie Malmsteen ~ The Seventh Sign

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Style: power metal, heavy metal, blues-rock, progressive
Label: Pony Canyon
Year: 1994
Home: Florida

Members: Yngwie Malmsteen ~ guitars/bass/sitar/b. vocals
Michael Vescera ~ vocals
Mats Olausson ~ keyboards
Mike Terrana ~ drums/triangle


I've tried hard to like YM. But, I feel he makes it tough. His albums are heavily repetitious sounding more alike then not & are certainly predictable. His style has seemingly changed little, meandering between fast & super fast & classical & not so classical rock. I find his songs not so memorable & not doing much for me, except for a casual piece ... like one on each album. What keeps me trying is the fact that he is an pioneer of the classical shredding ... & really few play as fast as him & certainly not like him ... thankfully. Though, what keeps turning me away, again & again with as much predictability as his albums, is the the lack of variety & emotional quality. Technique over feeling is great ... when one offers feeling over technique occasionally, which I feel YM doesn't. & I feel the songs tend to be middle of the road predictable rock so the songwriting doesn't boost things for me. Further, I'm just not much of a shredder fan. I weary of its endless assault. But, like a food you keep trying to like, I keep trying to like YM. So, when I see an album of his that's supposedly doing something different I take a listen. The Seventh Sign, which sounds more like a Steve Vai album title, brings together the classically heavy YM with a more bluesy YM. Yes, YM does the blues, sort of. You read that genre name right. Ironically, most rock guitarists have a foundation in the blues, until YM gave an alternative style, so for many to have a blues album it would be no big deal. For YM it is, particularly since the blues is a style that seems, to me, alien to everything about YM. But, first, First, the classical metal part of this endeavor (i.e. "Never Die", "Hairtrigger", "Crash & Burn" & title track) - predictable throwaway YM power metal that has moments for the guitar enthusiast but continues to bore this non-fan. The songs don't have anything distinct about them I haven't heard before either in other music or YM. As for the rest of the band - light with the keyboards, the drums keep furious pace, while Michael Vescera is too much Jeff Scott Soto wannabe with his strung out high notes ... & I don't really care for Soto's singing with Rising Force. Enough said. I'll be criticized for not listening to YM's intricate scaler movement, but honestly it's just not a style that grabs me. It might be innovative but doesn't make me wonder what he's doing, like I did the first time I heard Wes Montgomery or Tal Farlow or John McLaughlin. Though "Pyramid of Cheops" is quite a standout due to a super killer heavy riff & a lack of YM classical playing throughout except in the solo. It also includes a sitar ... even if sitars aren't found in Egypt. This is the one song per YM album I really like, though I wouldn't call it a typical YM song, which is probably why I like it. Further, YM is in a bland rock ballad mood with on this album (i.e. "Meant To Be", "Prisoner Of Your Love" & "Forever One.") Albeit, "Forever One" the highlight of the rock side of the album as it brings together a Pepe Romero acoustic guitar with heavy metal rhythms & a technically bluesy solo. It might be the best arrangement & next to "Pyramid of Cheops" the most memorable song on the album. YM does take the classical motif one step further with an acoustic instrumental piece, "Sorrow", to end the album as a coda. It's interesting to him him full on classical & acoustic. As for the blues part (i.e. "I Don't Know", "Brothers", "Bad Blood", "Angel In Heat") - YM certainly has the technique down far more than I would have expected. He's obviously been listening to a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Kenny Wayne Shephard & "Angel In Heat" is a heavy thumping bass Hendrix tribute almost to the point where I think Hendrix should have a co-writing credit. But, blues, for me, has a soft & slow component that YM completely lacks & this is certainly more hurried blues-rock than really trying to find the essence of the blues. Actually, it's more YM a little slower with a few different scales, which is what a lot of blues-rock is. He may have the technique but he continues to lack the soul making these few songs interesting pieces. Do they show YM's diversity? I don't really think so. They show an attempt to be diverse, but YM is so stuck in one style that its hard to move. It's almost like talking about the diversity of B.B. King, there is none. He just does what he does & does it well & you either like it or not, as that's what you're getting. Is this an album to recommend? Probably not. It's a bit too disjointed for new fans in style & feeling, though old fans will certainly want to check out it out. It's not bad, I'm just not going to be inclined to listen again ... off to the next YM album in my quest.

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