Facing the Animal
Yngwie Malmsteen is a man who needs no introduction. Besides having an unforgettable name, he is one of the best neo-classical guitarists gracing the music industry. Despite knowing all this, I must admit I have never been a huge Malmsteen fan — until now.
Facing the Animal, Malmsteen’s latest effort, surpassed all my mediocre expectations. For the first time, one of his records actually sounds like a band effort. My only guess as to why is his somewhat new lineup, consisting of dynamite drummer Cozy Powell (Rainbow, ELP, Black Sabbath) and outstanding vocalist Mats Leven. Malmsteen decided to keep his veteran touring bassist Barry Dunaway, as well as keyboardist Mats Olausson, who has been with him since ’90.
A large part of the appeal of Facing the Animal is its distinctively Eighties hard rock feel. It is definitely a melodic masterpiece. From the intense first track “Braveheart” to the beautiful instrumental last track “Air on a Theme,” melody is a key ingredient.
Another key ingredient to the album’s success is the way almost every track flows into the next. Sometimes it’s hard to even tell when one song has ended and the next begun. I say almost every track because the fifth song “Like an Angel — For April,” a pretty ballad about Malmsteen’s financee, interrupts the four hard-hitting tracks before it.
While all the songs on Facing the Animal are of note, some stand out more than the rest. For example, the powerful “Poison in Your Veins,” the brilliant title track, and the carefully harmonized “Alone in Paradise.”
Overall, Facing the Animal is an album that will both please Malmsteen’s devoted fans and hopefully win him some new ones, like me.