Sound — 7
Yngwie's sound has been likened to musicians
stemming from Bach and Mozart, but his real talent is translating the sounds of classical music into something so contemporary and relevant. What Yngwie has been accused of in the past is a tendency to be grandiloquent, putting his prodigal skill in the window display while ignoring his band members. That tradition continues on Relentless, an effort recorded with his band, Rising Force (who don't even warrant a mention on the album art), in spite of including seriously talented individuals, including vocalist, Tim Ripper Owens. Yngwie doesn't fail to deliver, from the teasing legato introduction, Overture, to the magnificently crafted, Shot Across the Bow, whose soaring lead guitar is delivered with the intensity one has come to expect from the virtuoso. Malmsteen has often spoken of his use of phyrgian scales, also favoured by Marty Friedman. I've always enjoyed more experimental playing like this, and Malmsteen, although reliant upon it, does not pigeonhole himself he can still write some incredible riffs, as is the case on Look at You Now, which surprisingly features some sections that could perhaps be played by less than virtuosic guitarists! It is notable that I'm referring to the rhythm sections, but Malmsteen allows this to create the foundations for what is an uncannily good song. In his musings regarding Relentless Yngwie seemed to be quite genuine about capturing a moment, as opposed to merely being well-rehearsed. Of course, he's still well-rehearsed, and the album is largely scripted, but there are enough touches of vibrato to convince the listener that Yngwie still plays from the heart. Yngwie might be self-indulgent at times, but if you want to hear a candidate for what might be metal riff of the year, don't let Enemy Within pass you by. I'm not praising the song as a whole, which is a bit of a dingy, sluggish number, only redeemed by its terrific riff. Blinded is the last track of note, providing the listener with a dramatic, up-tempo listening experience, in which Yngwie pushes boundaries, in the process proving that he can adapt technical arrangements to fit the context of a song.
Lyrics — 5
I wouldn't say that Owens shines on Relentless. Indeed, he has the vocal capacity to offer another facet to Malmsteen's sound, hitting the high notes when called upon; but his true role is more perfunctory essentially an overstated cheerleader.
Overall Impression — 7
Yngwie's time of innovation has been and gone. His role now is to step in and remind today's young virtuosic pretenders how it's really done; the underlying point is that it's still difficult to look past innovators like Yngwie, Satch, and Vai when seeking unadulterated genius in the guitar world. As an afterthought, when will Yngwie consider being less obvious when being metaphorical or when alluding to something. This album is called Relentless, and that very much follows the Perpetual Flame theme. That is just lack of creativity, as is the case with his smarmy album covers.