Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force "Alchemy" Album Review
Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Alchemy: the back cover
Alchemy is an experimental album and it features the return of Mark Boals
Guitarist extraordinaire Yngwie Malmsteen certainly enjoys doing what he does. And that job is writing albums. In 1999, he came out with another one in the Rising Force series. That one is called Alchemy. This would be the last album that he would make in the 20th century. It was made 15 years after the original Rising Force album came out. It also features the return of amazing American vocalist Mark Boals. This album marks 13 years since his debut with Yngwie Malmsteen on the Trilogy album. The album is produced by Malmsteen himself. This is one of those longer albums being over 68 minutes long. With these long albums, it is sometimes hard for the listener to tune into an album that is that long and seems to drag on and on. But Alchemy is a decent album. By this time in his career, Yngwie had played music in three different decades, had to deal with the loss of his mother and the loss of band mate and drummer Cozy Powell. Through it all, he emerged to show us why he is Sweden’s best neoclassical guitarist. Yngwie actually started playing professionally as far back as 1976. Alchemy also marks the return of Mark Boals as the vocalist. He had collaborated with Yngwie in 1996 for the album called Inspiration. That album saw Yngwie cover a variety of songs from various artists. Mark Boals did the vocals on the Uli Jon Roth song called Sails of Charon. Mark has a terrific vocal performance in that song.
Alchemy: the weak points of the album
The album opens up with the instrumental song called “Blitzkrieg.” Yngwie Malmsteen has made plenty of these types of songs throughout his career and he is great at it. The other instrumental songs are “Blue” and “Asylum” which has three parts. Blue is a type of song that has a blues kind of sound to it and it a good one to listen to if you just want to relax and de-stress your mind and body. The only songs that I consider to be kind of substandard are “Leonardo” and “Demon Dance.” Demon Dance gets kind of repetitive in my opinion but is not a truly bad song.
The song Wield my Sword is one of the fastest song in the career of Yngwie Malmsteen
“Wield My Sword” is another good song but the guitar tone is kind of dirty and muted however. It is blazing fast with lots of guitar picking and pounding drums. This is one of those that sound like it is a thrash metal song but it really is not. It is just really, really fast and heavy.
How is the voice of Mark Boals?
The voice of Mark Boals really has not declined or changed that much over the years. He still has that awesome range and his screams are still high and loud enough to shatter glass! Just listen to the songs “Playing with Fire”, “Demon Dance”, and “Hangar 18, Area 51” to hear a demonstration of his still powerful voice. He can still hold on to certain words for a long time as he sings. He is just really something amazing and one of the best US born vocalists of all time. I find myself singing along with the song Hangar 18, Area 51.
The album Alchemy: the great points
The song Playing With Fire is basically about the dangers of starting wars. It is only a matter of time before the people of a nation will stand up and bring those criminals to justice. His best vocal performance on this album is in the song called “The Stand” or you can say Stand (The). This is how it is written on the back of the album cover. This song is the best on the whole CD and Mark Boals has a really melodic sounding voice that fits really well with this song. This song was always my favorite one and is one that I always remember whether I’m listening to this album or not. The main riff sounds somewhat like the song Facing The Animal in 1998. The song is basically about enemy forces bringing destruction upon the world. We have to be careful of what these kinds of people can do. The song is one of the best written songs in the end of the 20th century. Legion of the Damned is about going off to war and fighting an enemy that you are not familiar with. As the soldiers cross the watery depths and get back on land, the casualties mount as they lose their morale. This is similar to what happened to the US military in Vietnam as they were sent off to a foreign land to fight against a group of people that they were not familiar with. Mark Boals would return again as Yngwie Malmsteen would release the album War to End All Wars in 2000. Overall, Alchemy is a decent album and a nice way for Yngwie to close out the decade of the 1990s. However, for those of you just getting to know the style of his music, I would recommend you check out his first three or four albums. Those early albums are among some of his best works and will show you his true style and brilliance as a musician. Recommended tracks on the CD include the already mentioned “The Stand”, “Playing with Fire”, “Blitzkrieg”, and “Blue.”
How does Alchemy compare to the other Rising Force albums?
Once again Yngwie J. Malmsteen shows us why he is Sweden’s premiere rock guitarist. This writer gives Alchemy a solid 85 out of 100 points! It is a very good release. Even though Alchemy is one of the albums in the Rising Force series, it is very tough for him to match the creativity and strength of those first four albums. Even so, he shows us that he can still be creative without losing his speed on the guitar. That score of 85 out of 100 points though is the first rating that I gave but has it changed over time as we are in 2019? Is Alchemy even better than that solid grade? Considering that Yngwie Malmsteen’s best years as a musician with his skills, creativity and personnel used on the albumsis from 1984 through 1999, this is a tough call. There is a definite power metal influence combined with classical influences in the song Wield My Sword and in a way, the album shows Yngwie exploring new territory. He has always had that neoclassical influence in his music dating back to at least 1984 but Alchemy has instrumental songs, heavy songs as well as songs with a power metal influence in them.
Rate the Album Alchemy
© 2016 Ara Vahanian