Throughout his 28-year recording career, Yngwie Malmsteen has divided opinion. For connoisseurs of guitar virtuosity, the Swede is a legendary figure. To others, he is merely a show-off, a bore, and frankly, up his own arse.
Malmsteen’s technical ability is beyond question, but this and his high-minded artistry, inspired as much by Beethoven and Bach as Hendrix and Blackmore, have not always translated into great rock songs. And so it is with Relentless, Yngwie’s 15th original studio album.
Much of what he plays on this disc is mindboggling, superhumanly fast and complex. The brilliant instrumental Knight Of The Vasa Order is proof alone of why Guitar Hero II has an Yngwie Malmsteen Award for players hitting more than a thousand notes in succession.
What’s missing is the quality of songwriting that made his 1988 album Odyssey a career peak. On that record, Malmsteen shared the spotlight with Rainbow/Deep Purple singer Joe Lynn Turner. But his current vocalist Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, formerly of Judas Priest and Iced Earth, has only a supporting role on Restless.
It’s an album neatly summarised by the title of its final track: Arpeggios From Hell. That’s Yngwie – take it or leave it.