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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Yngwie Malmsteen

Fire & Ice

Review by Gary Hill

This is a reissue (with two bonus tracks) of Yngwie Malmsteen's 1992 release. I've included it in the progressive rock section because there is enough prog and classical music here to land it there, although I almost put it under heavy metal.

Thinking about it, it really has to be tough to be in Malmsteen's shoes. I mean, if he does his neo-classically tinged stuff there are people who will call him "pretentious" and shut him out because of it. If he tempers that with more mainstream rock, the fans of the complex stuff will accuse him of "selling out." Personally, I'd say that this disc manages a pretty good balancing act between the two elements.

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Track by Track Review
This powers in neo-classically tinged and incredibly technical. If the whole album were like this it would land under prog rock, but it's not. This instrumental is one of the strongest things here and real powerhouse.

This cut is much more of a metal stomper. It's pretty straightforward on the surface. That said, listen to the guitar fills that are all over this. I dig the vocal arrangement and the hooks. The guitar solo section at the end of the cut is purely on fire.

Built around an almost 80s metal structure, this isn't as impressive as either of the two openers. That said, it rocks pretty well, has some catchy hooks and an intriguing dropped back movement. The guitar soloing, as always, is impressive.
How Many Miles To Babylon
This one is very much a classical piece at the start. It is a mellower section with strings and more. Not only is it classical, but it's classy and a nice change of pace. It works out to more rocking stuff later for the song proper, making this one decidedly prog rock in nature, with a bit of a metal edge to it. There are such cool shifts and changes here.
Cry No More
The guitar line that starts this is classical at first, but then leans toward a bluesy edge in some ways. The cut works out from there with a proggy kind of metallic sound. The classical section mid-track lands this fully in the prog rock end of the spectrum. While there is a metal edge to this for sure, it really is far too complex and proggy to not fit under prog rock. There is a lot of passion and power built into this thing.
No Mercy
This is a more of a metal stomper, but there is still enough complexity here to bring it into prog territory. This is one of my favorites here because everything just seems to gel so well. It's stomping hard rocking and yet packed with classical music in the structure. In some ways, I think that if the old-school classical composers had electric guitars, they would have created something a lot like this.
C'est La Vie
Coming in dramatic and a bit tentatively, this is killer metal based classically oriented prog rock. Again, the song is constructed around a lot of classical music. There is a drop back to a section where Malmsteen shows off some acoustic guitar soloing. He powers out to the electric stuff beyond that really firing in some amazing ways. This cut is a powerhouse and one of my favorites on this disc.
Now, this super-hot tune is incredibly heavy and ferocious. It's definitely packed full of heavy metal. Yet, the overall shifts and changes and song construction land much more in the vein of classically based progressive rock. This instrumental is smoking hot.
Fire And Ice
The title track fires in with some killer instrumental work that bridges the gap between metal and prog very well. The song proper is more of an AOR metal based thing.    The instrumental section takes us back into neo-classical territory.
Forever Is A Long Time

This screaming hot stomper probably lands closer to the metal end of the spectrum. That said, it's also not far removed from the kind of thing Ritchie Blackmore has done in both Rainbow and Deep Purple. The instrumental section, with it's powerhouse soloing (not just guitar either) brings it closer to that prog rock heading, though.

I'm My Own Enemy
This is an intricate balladic piece that has a lot of classical music built into it at the start  Yet there is also a traditional folk sound in place here.  This becomes more of a power ballad as it makes its way forward.
All I Want Is Everything
Now, the riff that starts this is full on heavy metal.  This is a screaming hot powerhouse number. The instrumental section really stomps.
Golden Dawn

Acoustic guitar based, this instrumental is fairly short. It's pretty and very progressive and classically based.

Final Curtain
More of a screaming hot metal number as it enters, this becomes a bit different from that. It has plenty of prog rock in the mix. This is complex and dynamic. There are parts that definitely lean heavily on a heavy metal sound. There are plenty of other moments, though, that bring in more pure prog and classical music.
Bonus Tracks
Teaser (Single Version)

This single version is not bad, but by definition more mainstream than the earlier version. It's the kind of thing that was built for radio-airplay, but sacrificed some of the magic to get there. They do include the little mellow bridge and some screaming guitar soloing, though.

Broken Glass (Japanese Bonus Track)
This is another that's more of a straight-ahead rocker. While I don't really make out a lot of prog on this, other than the classically tinged guitar solo, I'd call it more hard rock than heavy metal. It's a solid and rather catchy cut. Besides, it's a bonus.
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