Monday, June 6, 2016

Yngwie Malmsteen - Wolrd On Fire (2016)

Despite being such an icon and being acclaimed as one of the most influential guitar players ever to have lived, more or less a living legend, I was actually pretty indifferent about Yngwie Malmsteen releasing another record. There are certainly a lot of reasons to why I felt that way, but the main reason was pretty straight forward, the man has not put out anything spectacular lately, it has just been more of that neoclassical guitar wanking goodness that he has perfected throughout his 30+ years in the business. Nothing wrong in itself, but it is not something one would get overly excited over.

Yngwie took his sweet time to record his next installment, taking a total of 4 years, which is the longest time between two Yngwie records ever. Sadly, it seems like he had not used up his time well, because not only is the title really bland (possibly stolen from Slash), but the song material is nothing too special, which is kind of a let down since his last album, "Spellbound", at least had some fresh ideas.

Once again, Yngwie presents us a album that is more of a pure solo effort than a band effort, especially since Yngwie himself takes on a ton of work, including the vocal duties. This does not necessarily have to be a bad thing (after all, this is his band), but I feel like he would benefit with some help, someone to take off some of that weight from his shoulders. At least get a singer, because it is fairly obvious that he is not all too comfortable in that role, seeing as there are only three tracks that includes vocals, and all three of them are really basic, so this could as well have been an instrumental album, something I would have been totally fine with. The vocal additions on this album are more or less unnecessary, even if they are some of the better tracks in this album.

As for the instrumental parts of the album (which there are a lot of), they do very little to impress. The guitar lines are typical Yngwie Malmsteen work, and you can easily hear that he has recycled a lot of them, from the structure of the solos to the mood that they are trying to express. It is of course impressive that Yngwie can pull of this much out of a guitar, but we already know that he could do that, this simply is nothing new to us, nor him. As for the rest of the group... well... I cannot say anything too specific about them because they simply do not get enough room to shine on. It is solid work all the way through, but it is extremely obvious that the guitar is in front, and never leaves the center stage for the entire record.

The only redeeming quality "World On Fire" has is that the technical execution is at a high level, which is far from a big surprise. There aren't many songs in here that are good or memorable, but out of the three songs with vocals in them, "Soldier" is the one that strikes me the most with its epic and emotional moments, making it one of the more unique song in this album. Among the instrumental songs, "Top Down, Foot Down" stands as a good contender with a good, solid execution on a lot of levels. I also enjoy the change of pace in "Largo" and the power in "Abandon (Slight Return)", but they (and every other song on this record) gets tiresome rather quickly.

Never in my life have I heard something that sounds this fast, this thrilling, this flaming, and this boring all at the same time. We get it, Yngwie Malmsteen can take a guitar and set it on fire just by looking at it, but this guitar wankery has almost gotten out of control. "World On Fire" is just more of the same old everything, nothing new or innovative comes out of this album, which once again, is disappointing since "Spellbound" at least tried to bring something new to the table, hinting that the Swede were on his way towards a new destination, but nope, he did a U-turn and went home again to safer ground. "World On Fire" is technical and shows once again that Yngwie is still one of the greater guitarists out there, but this album makes me wonder if he is a one trick pony when he handles all of the work by himself. Hope he isn't...

Songs worthy of recognition: Soldier, "Top Down, Foot Down"

Rating: 4,5/10 Largos

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