By Bob Nalbandian

Unleash The Fury

Speaking of artists that just won't give up (or give in), would somebody please tell this former 'guitar-God' that self-indulgent guitar overkill is a thing of the past! I'm a sucker for great guitar rock but playing the same tasteless lightning-fast leads over and over again, album after album...enough already, please! I'm all for 'sticking to your guns' and 'staying true to your art' but one must also evolve and progress. Not only do we hear the same Yngwie neo-classical flash-guitar work on Unleash The Fury but we also have the same song structure, melodies and vocal harmonies we've heard on every previous Rising Force album. And according to the band-bio Yngwie's got 24 albums to his credit! Now that I got that out of the way I will say that if you are a fan of the man you'll definitely get your money's worth purchasing this CD. Not only is it trademark Yngwie, the disc includes a whopping 18 tracks (including four instrumentals) as well as CD-ROM bonus clips of Malmsteen demonstrating his signature guitar technique. Also, Malmsteen's talents go beyond his guitar-shredding on this release as he performed all the bass tracks, wrote all the music and lyrics, and even performed lead vocals on the track "Cherokee Warrior", which he does a surprisingly fine job on, I might add. Keyboardist Joakin Svalberg and drummer Patrick Johansson (no relation to Yngwie's former band mates Anders and Jens) perform excellently throughout this disc and vocalist Doogie White also shines. Now that Mr. Malmsteen has filched every stage movement, every guitar lick, and every fashion statement conceived by Ritchie Blackmore, he has now officially nabbed every ex-Rainbow vocalist as well (apart from the almighty Dio, although they did record "Dream On" together for an Aerosmith tribute record.) The question is; how long will it take before Yngwie tries to move in on Candice Night? I for one certainly wouldn't be surprised. In closing, it wouldn't be proper to end this review without saying this disc contains a few really strong songs, particularly "Winds Of War," "Revelation (Drinking With The Devil)", and "The Bogyman" which has a surprisingly heavy modernized guitar riff but unfortunately is plagued by lame lyrics. If you're a fan of Rising Force or any neo-classical metal, Unleash The Fury will certainly do you justice.

Ogre Tones
InsideOut Music

King's X is unquestionably a great rock band, but are they the colossal trend-setting supergroup that they are constantly regarded as by critics and musicians alike? I, for one, think not. Shoot me if you will, but I feel this band has been rehashing the same harmonies, riffs and melodies we've heard on their previous albums over the last several years. In my opinion, I feel this band peaked way early on with the release of their debut Out Of The Silent Planet and their follow-up Gretchen Goes To Nebraska which both displayed sheer intensity, originality and creativity with incredibly soulful vocals from Mr. Pinnick. Their third release Faith, Hope, Love steered the band in a new direction, going from a more progressive sound to a harmonic Beatle-esque approach, this album served the band as their most commercial success to date but I still prefer their previous records. This is about the time I felt that King's X lost their integrity and their true insight. Their last few albums on Metal Blade showed the band in a much darker mode with a Beatles-gone-grunge approach that just didn't work for me. The problem I often found with this band is that rather than taking the time to concentrate on writing an album of classic proportions, which surely they are capable of doing, they spread themselves so thin and over-saturate their fans with mediocre music. I find this in large part due to the bands pre-occupation of their side projects. What, with Ty Tabor's Platypus, The Jelly Jam, and Jughead and Doug's ( Dug) side projects Poundhound and Supershine, it's no wonder the King's X albums are lacking in originality and strong content. That's not to say the band hasn't written great songs in the last few years, every King's X album, as well as Dug's side albums, contained at least one gem, notably the classics "Happy" and "Skeptical Winds," as well as the retro-fueled anthem "Kingdom Come" from Supershine and Poundhound's riff-roaring groove-tune "Jumpin'." But let's face it; songs like these are few and far between. Ogre Tones is the band's first effort for new label InsideOut, the record is much better produced than it's Metal Blade predecessors (which were all self-produced), thanks to the production and mixing skills of metal veteran Michael Wagner, and the songs are a bit more thought out showing traces of their early years. The album starts off strong with opener "Alone," "Stay," and "Fly" and peaks with "Bebop" - an intricate riff-heavy number that shows this band still knows how to rock hard. But unfortunately it all goes downhill from there. All in all, Ogre Tones is a semi-strong release, but I know deep inside this band is capable of much more.

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