Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force

Attack!!

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Guitar virtuoso and heavy metal legend Yngwie Malmsteen is not subtle; 15 seconds into Attack!!'s opener, he fires off his first round of six-string artillery like a soldier left for dead, littering the earth with spent cartridges of neo-classical brutality. There's no denying his impressive chops -- the instrumental "Baroque & Roll" is a veritable "horned-hand" seminar -- but like all lecturers, Malmsteen goes on too long. He provides so much information to his weary students of rock that the unbridled joy of the subject gets lost. Ex-Rainbow vocalist Doogie White -- who does a fantastic Ronnie James Dio impersonation -- does wonders with Malmsteen's insipid lyrics, utilizing his throaty growl on timeless rockers like "In the Name of God" and the ubiquitous Viking anthem "Valhalla." The blistering title track, "Attack!!," is easily the best song on the record. Ferocious in its intensity, it sounds fresh and exciting, two words used sparingly in Malmsteen's later years. His frequent use of guest vocalists has never been a sore point for fans of the Swedish egotist, and his sole lead vocal on the bluesy "Freedom Isn't Free" is a fine example of why; like a froggish cross between David Lee Roth and Huey Lewis, his gruff voice straddles the fence between curio and car wreck. Despite some obvious filler -- never start a record with something called "Razor Eater" -- and a dull instrumental called "Air," where he shares writing credits with Johann Sebastian Bach, Attack!! is a fine return to form from one of heavy metal's most talented overachievers.

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