This is Yngwie Malmsteen’s 22nd album. Parabellum, loosely translated from Latin means, “Prepare for War,” making it a very fitting album title even though it was only adopted as the album title at the last second before release. But with music and artwork of this quality, a title is the least of your problems.
In many ways, though, this is actually Yngwie Malmsteen’s first solo album as (A’ la Mike Oldfield) he plays all the instruments and is not sidetracked by the latest fad of the day. Here, Yngwie follows his own path, not bowing to public expectations, just getting on with it. The power of modern technology like Pro Tools comes to the fore. Using the downtime created by a worldwide pandemic, Yngwie Malmsteen has created his Masterpiece.
In the past, Yngwie Malmsteen has used some excellent vocalists for his albums and live shows. Joe Lyn Turner, Jeff Scott Soto, and Mark Boals being amongst the biggest names to tread the boards with this most mercurial of guitarists. But for now, Yngwie Malmsteen takes on the vocal duties himself, and very accomplished he is too. I’ve always felt that in Yngwie’s case it’s pretty pointless having a lead vocalist/frontman as the vocals in general take up about 10% of the performance. With this album, only four of the songs have vocals. Whilst all eyes and ears are on the guitarist anyway, the poor singer is left hanging out at the side of the stage, often just a waste of talent.
No keyboards are used on this album, although you would swear there were. But Mr. Malmsteen promises us there weren’t; only guitar was used to create all the effects.
Opener ‘Wolves at the Door’ knocks the door off its hinges straight away. Blistering lead guitar breaks, crunching rhythm guitar, with the bass and drums charging along trying to keep up. The vocals also have to be sung at the speed of sound. But it’s when the guitar starts to solo that things really burn. As has always been the case with this artist, “Why use two notes when you can ram home a thousand.” If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
A speedball of an opener and the pace does not let up.
‘Presto Vivace in C# minor’ means amusingly faster! It is as if Yngwie Malmsteen’s hands fly over the fretboard. Mind-numbing stuff. Following this, fifth gear is hit by even faster guitar playing on ‘Relentless Fury.’
The title track thumps home his point as the pace is relentless.
On ‘Toccata,’ the name speaks for itself and will leave Classical Music lovers with mouth agape.
The best on this album is saved till the last two epics, which is not often the case on albums with a couple of fillers often tagged on at the end to fill out the time, hoping nobody will notice. Not here.
‘(Fight) The Good Fight’ is as always beyond the sound barrier in speed, but has a compelling chorus and riff that will have them holding their phones aloft with the light on in the stadiums when this Swedish Rock Star gets out on the road.
Finally, we reach the last song, ‘Sea Of Tranquility.’ It stands tall amongst the fine artillery on show here. The guitar playing is all flash and shows great humour in its nuance of the ‘Nutcracker Suite’ thrown in for good measure.
In a career spanning over 40 years, there have been many highlights and Parabellum is one of the brightest.
To understand how well thought of this artist is, you only have to look back and see which top musicians this man has played with. His tour with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani as G3 is captured on live album and DVD, ‘Rockin in the Free World’ from 2004 is monumental, where Yngwie Malmsteen often outshines his collaborators. (Certainly in the Flash Division.)
A fine artist certainly not slowing down as significant birthdays loom on the horizon.
Hopefully, Yngwie Malmsteen will grace the stage in Bangkok again as he did in 2007 and again in 2017, when he came in the company of Steve Vai and Zak Wylde, amongst others, on the Generation Axe Tour. Fingers crossed.
Written by Mott The Dog from Pattaya’s Darkside.