Review Summary: Patches of brilliance eclipsed by slices of meaningless shred and cheesy vocals
Yngwie Malmsteen is an interesting character; at his best he can be brilliant, mesmerising and even genius – if you doubt this, then listen to Black Star
immediately – but at his worst he can throw out some of the most forgettable songs that you are ever likely to hear; so dispassionate and cheesy that they can be mistaken for Dragonforce
. Sadly, that’s what he did for the best part of Fire and Ice
, in which he takes the focus off the neoclassical elements of his sound and injects some glam-infused hard rock. However, don’t ignore it completely because there are quite a few hidden gems here.
The album kicks off with Perpetual
, which is easily the best song on the album. Malmsteen’s instrumentals always have some kind of special quality, and this is no exception. Perpetual
is one of the most kickass songs that I’ve ever heard in my life, thanks to a mean bassline that sounds both menacing and dramatic, mystical guitar/keyboard interplay that is incredibly impressive to listen to and so much tension and suspense that you have to ask yourself why Yngwie thought that hiring Goran Edman
as a vocalist would add any more drama to his sound than it already has. This is my joint favourite Malmsteen song, alongside Black Star
, and is essential if you appreciate tasteful shred.
Unfortunately, the album immediately goes downhill; Dragonfly
is groovy for a few minutes and then one of the album’s main flaws presents itself. Goran Edman’s voice is fantastic; he can hit all the right notes and annunciate the lyrics perfectly, since he sings very clearly. The only problem is that for 90% of the album, his vocals fail to fit in with the music; his voice simply does not suit most of Yngwie’s compositions. Admittedly, it is quite hard to imagine a vocalist that would fit in here (personally, I imagine a more dramatic version of David Lee Roth, but that’s just my opinion), but one thing’s for certain – Goran Edman is not the right vocalist for the album.
There are quite a few of painful moments in the album, but special mention has to be given to the laughable attempt of glam rock that is Teaser
, the forgettable No Mercy
, which is completely average apart from the orchestral interlude and Forever Is A Long Time
, which is about as silly as its title. The majority of the songs have virtually no replay value, since even when they do succeed in sounding good, most of them just give the listener an urge to go and listen to Van Halen
instead. An example of this is All I Want Is Everything
, which mimics their sound shamelessly and even goes as far as to include similar lyrics to what Eddie might write;
“Come on woman, just give me a touch
You gotta know I'm not asking too much”
However, it’s not all bad. There are three songs on this album that are genuinely mindblowing (and, coincidentally, they all retain Yngwie’s neoclassical aspects more than the other songs). The first of these is the aforementioned Perpetual,
of which I can say no more. The second is C’est la Vie
, which brims with power, mystery and epicness. The sitar intro sets the scene perfectly for the simple chords that come in and take the listener on a ride through musical vistas of open skies and green countryside. Goran sounds perfectly at home in this song and Yngwie’s solo is a spectacular display of musicianship. As well as this, the palm-muted chords played throughout give the song a crunchy edge that makes it catchy and gives it much-needed replay value; this song is an incredible experience.
The third main highlight is the stunning title track
. Yngwie shreds here more than any other song on the album, but does so without killing choking the life out of the song, and he still deploys tasteful riffs and licks throughout. Goran has his finest hour and the drums add to the upbeat nature perfectly. This is also one of the most neoclassical songs on the album, and is a great place to start if you are getting into the genre. Other highlights include the emotive (but still slightly forgettable) I’m My Own Enemy
, the closer Final Curtain
, which takes the drama of the album a step further and ends it very nicely, the serious Cry No More
and the dark instrumental Leviathan
which is slightly inconsistent but still a very enjoyable listen.
So, although a lot of it was average or worse, the high points of Fire and Ice
marked it out as a solid album when compared to the utter crap that Yngwie would later produce. However, do not buy this if you are interested in Yngwie Malmsteen; his early work (especially Rising Force
) is far superior to this. Download the best tracks, but only but the whole thing for completion’s sake.
The top 3 songs are all amazing
Too much glam influence; not enough neoclassical elements
WAY too much filler
Far too long; if this was around 40 minutes, it would be far more enjoyable
Top Five Tracks
2. Fire and Ice
3. C’est la Vie
4. Cry No More
5. Final Curtain