Yngwie Malmsteen
War to End All Wars

Yngwie Malmsteen is very much a living legend in heavy metal, for it’s his inclusion of classical music within metal that’s set him apart from his string burning peers. Yet, with his immeasurable skill, Malmsteen also comes with a reputation – he’s rumored to be the most difficult person in music.

For the sake of keeping things updated, I won’t delve too much into Malmsteen’s back catalog of releases to reference his latest full-length, War to End All Wars. There are moments (“Masquerade” and “The Wild One”) of greatness here, but why in the world would Malmsteen choose a return this mediocre to reaffirm to the world he’s a guitar god? For starters, I was expecting an immaculate slab of cunning classical soloing, superb songwriting and overall heavy metal madness. War to End All Wars isn’t any of that! In fact, Malmsteen and his backing band haven’t sounded this flat and lifeless ever.

The songs, from opener “Prophet of Doom” to closing bonus track “Black Sheep of the Family,” lack identity, energy and sonic intensity. This is heavy metal, dammit! This is Yngwie – he’s a Swede, but he’s certainly devoid of the hunger that’s driving younger countrymen like Nocturnal Rites and Hammerfall. In fact, I’ll say Hammerfall’s latest metal misconception is by far and large more vital to the state of metal than this slab of egocentric, under-produced drivel.

Did I mention the production? Er, if this package didn’t have the Spitfire logo and Malmsteen’s name emblazoned on it, I’d surely think this endeavor was a demo band from some hair metal band stuck in the mid ’80s. The two studios used for War to End All Wars are no doubt used for different purposes (the cheap for the other instruments, the expensive one for the guitar) – the obviousness of the uneven mix (intentional in Mr. Malmsteen’s favor no doubt) is so apparent in every track that it’s difficult to imagine a perfectionist is behind the helm of the recording.

Ah, but who cares, the solos sound amazing, right? True, the solos do sound spectacular and he proves to still have four arms and 20 fingers, but haven’t we really heard all this before? Shouldn’t the progenitor of Rhapsody, Stratovarius and countless other guitar-keyboard-centric bands be striving for new sounds, new ways to make his instrument screech and skronk in ways the metal community never imagined? I guess that requires, at least, some foresight, which the armored six-stringer seems to lack in spades.

That vision translated into hiring one of the worst the worst vocalists I’ve heard in a long, long time. Mark Boals vain attempt to triumph over the leads is almost hilarious to behold – the Freddie Mercury two part harmonies are about the only thing Boals accomplishes without begging to be shot for his uninspired delivery. Could this all be engineered by a certain guitarist? Hmm’we’ll see on his next release. As a heavy metal fan (and boy does my vinyl collection show it) and as a professional (ahem) heavy metal journalist, War to End All Wars comes recommended to completists and that’s just about it. There’s no real reason to plunk $15 of your blue collar cash for the album, unless, of course, some other sap bought the damn thing and is connected to Napster. Then, you can sample the album in all its derived glory for all but a connection to the ‘Net. Nice, but even I wouldn’t recommend wasting your precious time.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Allan Richardson
October 7th, 2000

Comments

  1. Commented by: Gary

    U obviously dont like Malmsteen and are opinionated. Like rush Limbaugh. U all r haters and dont appreciate well thought of and music with feeling. And further more this doesn’t sound nothing like his early stuff. I know I listen to all his music .No one tells Stevie ray Vaughn or Clapton to play something different .this is Yngwie’s style and He is a guitar virtuoso an a Guitar God .u need to do reviews with an open mind


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