Style: power metal, heavy metal, blues-rock, progressive
Label: Rising Force Records
Members: Yngwie Malmsteen ~ guitars/bass/keyboards/sitar/b. vocals
Patrick Johansson ~ drums
Tim "Ripper" Owens ~ vocals
Derek Sherinian ~ keyboards
It's taken me a long time, lots of listens & albums, & past reviews here will contest to some of that search, but I can say I have finally found a YM album where from start to finish I enjoyed nearly every song & more importantly wasn't walking away bored & overdosed. Excluding his first album with Rising Force, & stuff with Alcatrazz, everything that has come later from him has done nothing but disappointment me except for random tracks. & usually I'm interested primarily because of the vocalist ... though bad lyrics do just as much as bad over-playing. Yes, YM was & is a pioneer guitarist doing something no one else does & really remains unmatched. But, bad lyrics, break from the speed onslaught, lack of contribution from his band & a general lack of soul or variation I have found to haunt all his work. One guitar solo at breakneck spead spread out for countless years is how I categorize YM's career. Then comes Perpetual Flame. I can't explicitly say what makes this album great, though others have verified it as his one of his best. It's the same guitar riffs as always with the same epic lyrics. Though, maybe this time the formerly missing secret ingredient is in the singer. YM always chooses top notch musicians & singers, without a doubt, to counter his guitar attack, but this time this frontman might have had just enough input to make a stronger impact than normal, though no writing credits exist ... or maybe he didn't & YM was just inspired like never before. Or, maybe the singing is a step above what other frontmen have done & really does intertwine in a way that YM has not been able to do with anyone else except for Jeff Scott Soto. The singer in question is Tim "Ripper" Owens, formerly of Iced Earth & Judas Priest, now the ninth singer YM has had leading his band. But, is Owens the secret? Also in the band is former Alice Cooper & Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian who has a colorful range of music at his fingers & might have something to do with it. But, it's hard to say exactly what makes this album stand out from the rest. Honestly, the template is no different than any other album. The songs really don't vary that much, in that predictably YM way where each song generally sounds the same & each album like the last. Maybe it's because the weaker songs aren't too bad & beside the stronger songs end up sounding better than they really are. The one weakness is the obligatory instrumental "Caprici Di Diablo". I don't understand the desire of guitarists to show off with instrumentals when that's what they do usually just with vocals. For me few really imitate a vocalist in such a way that the song is just as good without a singer. Van Halen has done this too & those instrumental tracks I usually throw out. The guitar is melodic like a vocalist, but its not no matter how it's played. The only guitarists I know who really sing like an vocalist are in the jazz field or rock guys with a strong horn sensibility. Though "Caprici Di Diablo" is also YM's classical metal moment that he can't leave out. It's excusible, though is made less so by being followed by the instrumental "Lament". "Lament" is the better of the two & YM doing the blues is a good & too rare thing, & far more interesting than the classical thing, but I would have preferred to hear the instrumentals laced through the album & not clumped together. I understand that YM's Rising Force was originally both instrumental & vocal tracks, but I feel YM had moved beyond that into including more vocals. But, maybe that's why this album sounds good - it brings back something from the gold old days when the music was still vibrant & new. Including the Rising Force name on the album also helps, but this is not the same band so it's just a name. "Magic City" is a particular highlight that sounds like Whitesnake though a shorter solo would be better, but slow YM might be something not wish away too fast. If you want to get into YM Perpetual Flame might be the first & last place to turn to. It's the best.