Friday, March 29, 2019

Album review: Yngwie Malmsteen - Blue Lightning

When Yngwie Malmsteen announced the release of Blue Lightning, he called it a blues album and that raised a few eyebrows. He's tackled the form before but just because you play twelve bars in a pentatonic scale doesn't mean you are playing the blues and the track listing did nothing to alleviate this reviewer's fears of an over-the-top, unsubtle, ham-fisted wank-fest.

Unfortunately, those fears turned out to be perfectly founded and, simply put, the album is a turd. The production is a noisy mess, the drums are an incessant intrusion and since he's alienated pretty much every vocalist he's employed, Yngwie now insists on singing and his vocals are absolutely excruciating. But worse than the ridiculously grandiloquent performances are the tunes themselves.

The covers are absolutely disastrous. How anyone can mess up those songs is beyond comprehension. Not that we needed new versions of those overplayed classics anyway, but you wouldn't think it would be hard for Yngwie fucking Malmsteen to turn in a decent take on Smoke On The Water. Well, think again.

The original material fares slightly better (the instrumental Peace, Please is the only remotely good piece on the whole record) but it's only in comparison to the absolutely abysmal interpretations of the songs made famous by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top.

Yngwie pretty much invented neo-classical metal (or at least perfected it after having stolen it from Uli Jon Roth...) and it's a style he excels in. Granted, his great albums in that style are over thirty years old and nothing he has done since is essential but if there is a lesson in Blue Lightning it's that one-trick ponies needn't branch out.

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