Sound: The Swedish guitarist is back with another CD to add to his already huge collection, "Spellbound". This time, The Man himself is the one who sings, although only in a couple of songs, most of them are instrumental. And what can I say about him and his music that hasn't been said already? Perhaps nothing. But does that mean that this new CD is not worth listening? Hell no! While there isn't anything REALLY new, this release is a huge step up from his last albums, "Perpetual Flame" and, specially, "Relentless". Let's face it, they weren't as good as his previous releases (and that's said by a huge fan from Yng), and "Relentless" was a bit disappointing at least for me, but it seems that Yngwie has return to the 'right' path with "Spellbound".
Here you'll find Neoclassical Metal, of course, and the day that Yngwie doesn't play that, that will be the Apocalypse. But you'll also find that The Man knows how to play (and sing) some cool blues, and that his skill with the Acoustic guitar is as impressive as unique, with a really beautiful sound that lets yo rest from the huge overdriven sound that made him famous.
There is more variety than you might expect from Yngwie, but we'll go later on that. The mix of the album is raw and it seems that'll be the tonic from now on. The guitars sound REALLY LOUD, the bass not so much, and the other instruments are there but they don't have that presence, you can hear an organ, some vocal choruses (aaahs), keyboards, what seems to be a drum machine... but they're a little lost in the mix, as well as the voice of Yngwie.
Overall the compositions are far better than in "Relentless". Let's say they have more character, more meaning, not just shredding away the fretboard. I think that this is one of the highlights of the album, making it less monotonous and more interesting for the listener. Obviously not as much as his first releases, but that's impossible after 30 years of shredding, right?
So let's review briefly each of the 13 song, OK?
1. "Spellbound": The title track. Enters with a cool lick, that repeats troughout the song, but there are some interesting passages as well. 100% Yngwie.
2. "High Compression Figure": It's really a duet between two guitars, with nice passages, and not so fast as the previous. Some blues included!
3. "Repent": We go metal in this one, a nice low-pitch riff and Yngwie singing not very good. Very cool solo.
4. "Let's Sleeping Dog Lie": What a title, huh? However this is a very cool song with a lot of character and calm blues. Yngwie plays and sings really good here. One of the best songs from this CD.
5. "Majestic 12 Suite": Here we have a really Majestic song. Enters with an impressive violin duet, continues with Yngwie giving it all with his arpeggios and scalar runnings, and a cool riff at about 1:48. It also features a nice acoustic part, then returns to the first guitar riff, and continues with a variation. Really impressive song.
6. "Electric Duet": A beautiful guitar duet, with anger and sentiment.
7. "Nasca Lines": Begins with an acoustic part, and continues with electric guitar, then returns to the acoustic. It's like an introduction to the next song.
8. "Poisoned Mind": Another metal, agressive song, with Yng singing again, better than in "Repent", but worse that in "Sleeping Dog Lie". It has a cool melody, though.
9. "God Of War": No, it has nothing to do with Kratos. It starts with a beautiful acoustic passage, then goes with an aggressive electric introduction, and from there a lot of arpeggios incredibly well executed. This song is really good, and shows Yngwie at his best, combining unreal technique with melody and feeling.
10. "Iron Blues": The last blues-based song, although all instrumental. Yngwie really knows how to play some Blues, although this one may be a little too fast.
11. "Turbo Amadeus": One of my favourites. It's short, but it's excellent. It's a part of Mozart's "25th Symphony" played in Electric guitar.
12. "From A Thousand Cuts": This one's not as impressive as others, but the arpeggios here are amazing, maybe a bit repetitive.
13. "Requiem For The Lost": The best song from "Spellbound" is it's last. Here Yngwie shows his magnificent phrasing, along with his technique, in a song that has the feeling and character that I thought that he had lost in recent years. Along with "Majestic 12" and "God Of War", the best from this CD, and maybe from the last 5 years. // 9
Lyrics: Well, this is where I should talk about the lyrics, but let's say that they're what you should expect from Yngwie, nothing new or groundbreaking. I want to say that Yngwie has a limited vocal range and that he's not a singer, to begin with, but he does really good when it comes to sing Blues, he has a cool voice for that style. But when he tries to sing Metal (his normal music, I say), he's not that good. At all. But he still does it, and better that I thought it would be (I was a bit scared when I knew he was going to sing, you know?). // 6
Overall Impression: If you compare this to "Relentless" or "Perpetual Flame", this CD just blows them away in everything. I really like the voice of Tim Ripper Owens with Judas Priest, but with Yngwie he was a little out of place, not what I expected from him. And Yngwie does it well singing, but just that, not excellent, not awful, so I don't really miss Tim.
The best songs are "Majestic 12", "God of War", "Requiem For The Lost" (this one's really amazing) and "Sleeping Dog Lie". Overall the album is really good, and if it had a real singer like Mark Boals, Mike Vescera or even Jeff Scott Soto, it would be GREAT.
But it is still really good, and I highly encourage you to give it a try. I think that the best I can say about this CD is that it's not as repetitive as the last ones, although it could have been better, but if Yngwie continues this way then the next album, with a proper singer, will be just amazing
So it was a really long review! And my first one. Hope you like it and sorry for possible typos or mistakes, English is not my main language so I'm trying to do my best! Anyway, enjoy listening to "Spellbound"! // 9