Part Ritchie Blackmore, part Nigel Tufnel, Yngwie J Malmsteen has careened through the netherworld of neo-classical heavy metal for three decades, a self-created, self-certified genius who remains absolutely certain of his destiny.
“He has been lauded, fêted and acclaimed for over 30 years” run the sleevenotes that accompany this entertaining compilation of his early days. True, but much of that praise has fallen from the lips of Yngwie himself. He has never been backwards at coming forwards.
After being brought to America by the shredfinder general Mike Varney and showcasing his chops with Graham Bonnet in Alcatrazz, he was soon positioning himself front and centre, picking up a fine singer in Jeff Scott Soto for Yngwie J Malmsteen’s Rising Force and Marching Out.
Far Beyond The Sun and Black Star set an enduring template: mystical, grandiose tunes with fiery Yngwie solos at their centre. Joe Lynn Turner proved another excellent foil on Odyssey, edging Malmsteen towards the same slick commercial sound as he had with Rainbow.
As with Soto, had the partnership lasted, Malmsteen may have become a more rounded artist, but Turner was out after an appearance on Trial By Fire: Live In Leningrad, replaced by Goran Edman for Eclipse, which further entrenched the reliance on formula.
While contemporaries such as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai have taken other paths, Yngwie is still gamely clambering into the leather trousers and giving us hell. Long may it continue – in small doses./o:p