The new Malmsteen-album is a total disappointment.
I'm sorry to reject a disc right from the start of my review, but I'm not going that much for euphemisms, but 'cos of the fact I could appear too harsh to the reader, I'll try to explain my thoughts about the album.
Best of all, the production (by Yngwie himself) is almost worse than a low-budget demo. The balancing among the instruments is realistically not existent, and their volumes seem to be randomised. Moreover, the bass is so loud it at times even covers the other instruments, the vocals are so low in the mix that you scarcely can hear them, and where are the keyboards? The guitars are a tad fuzzy and have a muddy and dry sound which flatten the songs. Well, I have to say that the drums' sound, though a bit unrefined, is good, but this aside, the whole record stinks. Who the heck produced it, maybe Fenriz?
And the music? It's basically the outdated neo-classical Metal which Yngwie provides us with since the beginning of his career. For sure, the guy is a guitar-monster, none can play as fast and precise to the millisecond as he does. Malmsteen is the definitive guitar player, he even handles the bass guitar here, showcasing a surprising complexity of playing and a fully respectable basswork. His band is extremely competent as well; in fact we have Mark Boals (vocals), Mats Olausson (keyboards) and John Macaluso (drums), shredding all over the darn' place.
Of course, I'm not arguing about the technical capability, but the tracks seem a rehash of whatever Yngwie has composed for the last 15 years. Check out "Bad Reputation": it's a decent song on its own, but how many tunes like this we already heard from the axeman? Countless, that's the problem.
There are some good news, anyway. The addition of a sitar on "Crucify", for example, is a pretty good idea and marks the song as one of the best tracks on the record, along with "Masquerade" (with an overly screaming Boals), and "Preludium"-"Wild one". Plus, the solos have been all improvised in studio for the first time on a Malmsteen-album, and it ended up somewhat fresh and more frantic than ever.
The other side of the coin are a few throwaway tracks ("Prophet Of Doom" is really of poor quality, and "Black Sheep Of The Family" is just a Reggae-joke-song), coupled with silly lyrics (maybe the only exception being "Miracle Of Life"), and the obscene production. There also are two instrumentals, "Molto Arpeggiosa" (aka "Arpeggios From Hell") and "Instrumental Institution". Unfortunately, the first sounds like bravado to me, and the second is quite tedious.
Bottom line: in spite of all its flaws, the record could be interesting for the die-hard Yngwie-fans and virtuoso wannabes out there, but I think it's unfair to the fans publishing a record with that production, and I can't get over it.