Classic review: Yngwie Malmsteen “Odyssey” [Polydor]

Classic review: Yngwie Malmsteen “Odyssey” [Polydor]

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Score 82%
82 %
User Rating : 4.8 (1 votes)

“Trilogy” represented a watershed for the Swedish guitar hero’s songwriting style. Malmsteen bet for a more song-oriented formula while his compositions became more melodic, somehow glammy and cheesy – think about a heavier version of the AOR Rainbow. With that 360° spin, much of his original formula’s gothic and dark components faded away, though the powerful epic atmosphere generated by the keyboard notes is still present. Indeed, after the experimental predecessor, this sound has been repeated with certain differences, starting with the production, which is more elaborated. Furthermore, the incorporation of the former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner allowed the band to enter into much more melodic territories given his high-pitched singing techniques.

With no exception, even in the album’s weakest moments, Malmsteen projected his skilled guitar playing, as he routinely does. After his life-threatening car accident, Malmsteen almost lost his movement in his right arm, and he would, for sure, say goodbye to his career. Although he fully recovered from his unfortunate circumstance, this incident worked against himself and his music. Yngwie displayed songwriting issues, which result from the changes in his formula and since the songwriting work always moves around himself and his instrument. At some moments, the album tends to include needless songs like the terrible “Heaven Tonight,” which is way too cheesy and sounds somehow dumb. Something similar happens to “Deja Vu,” another skippable cheesy number that results dull and awkward. Was Phil Collins involved in the songwriting work for Yngwie? It seems like if that was the case, and it’s not exactly the way a metal number was meant to be. Even the sweetest number from Journey is way heavier than either of the two numbers.

The rest of the album features numbers that are average at their worst. The opening title track is the definite highlight; Yngwie‘s supreme guitar-playing is a crucial element here. The riffs are good, and the guitar solo in the middle is extremely fast as usual, quite overwhelming, and the Blackmore‘s trademark dueling included therein is one of the best heard in the rock and metal scenes. The neoclassical epic metal “Bite the Bullet”“Riot in the Dungeons” combo is another memorable moment and a couple of energetic numbers that stick well together. They follow a rhythmic pattern similar to that of “Disciples of Hell” from Rising Force‘s sophomore effort and are incredibly played by the band.

Yngwie also explores a more melodic and softer side in his songwriting with the nostalgic and guitar-driven “Hold On,” which opens up with a rampaging solo but follows a romantic power ballad’s structure, except for the fact that it is an entirely mid-pace number. “Crystal Ball” opens up in a very slow-paced fashion with a great bass line, and it then grows up after the Yngwie‘s guitar solo. Both are excellent numbers, and they are aligned to the intended musical direction. “Krakatau,” on the other hand, is an excellent instrumental and somehow imitated by Stratovarius in one of their mid-late 90s albums; it is not. Although the overall formula is incredibly performed and the songwriting choices were improved, this formula is still not as superior as that used in the first two releases from Rising Force. Anyway, the evolution in his style is unavoidable, and it will follow Yngwie‘s career as of to date with certain specific variations throughout the albums.

Release date: April 8th, 1988

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About the author

I have been for more than 15 years into classic rock and 70s and 80s metal music, and have been writing reviews for more than 4 years. As a reviewer, I'm primarily focused on the most classic subgenres of metal music, and have heard the same in different formats.

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