Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force

War to End All Wars

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No, War to End All Wars isn't a Molly Hatchet album, the Frank Frazetta cover painting notwithstanding. It's Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force's 2000 album on Spitfire, which also finally gave Malmsteen's '90s output a proper U.S. reissue release at about the same time. The fleet-fingered Swedish guitar god plays all the electric and acoustic guitar parts on War to End All Wars, of course, and he also plays bass and sitar. And, for better or worse, he writes all the lyrics. His supporting players include vocalist Mark Boals, keyboardist Mats Olausson, and drummer John Macaluso. War to End All Wars is packed with Malmsteen's jaw-dropping, neo-classical, light-speed guitar shredding, and the three instrumentals are arguably the best tracks. (Face it, nobody listens to a Malmsteen album for the vocals, and Boals' operatic wailing wears thin after awhile.) "Molto Arpeggiosa" is the highlight and the track's foundation, oddly enough, is the rigidly spry bass riff; never fear, for Malmsteen quickly unleashes the rockets in his fingertips. His impossibly fast soloing on "Preludium" and "Instrumental Institution" is supported by the keyboards and drums. "Prophet of Doom" comes complete with Queen-like harmonies. The mid-tempo hard rocker "Bad Reputation" includes Malmsteen's self-defensive lyrics. "Masquerade" has a sleeker '80s-like feel and Malmsteen does as much riffing as soloing. The acoustic guitar-tinged "Miracle of Life," which seems inspired by his new life as a husband and father, has the broadest range of musical dynamics on the album. "Wild One" is rooted in speed metal and the lyrics cleverly weave past Malmsteen song titles. Given Malmsteen's love of Ritchie Blackmore, you'd think the U.S. bonus track "Black Sheep of the Family" is a Rainbow cover, but it's not. It's a playful, reggae-based studio jam.

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