Yngwie J. Malmsteen
ngwie J. Malmsteen was the originator of the high-speed, technical, neo-classical guitar style that developed in the 1980s. The guitar virtuoso started playing at age 5, and by his teens had formed his first band, Powerhouse. Now influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Richie Blackmore and Eddie Van Halen, at age 14 he formed the band Rising, named after Rainbow's second album (Rainbow Rising). He would immediately go to work recording a set of demo tapes. Producer Mike Varney persuaded him to relocate to Los Angeles and join Ron Keel's Steeler as lead guitarist; his first duty shift was on their premier record. (Keel himself would go on to form the hit self-named Metal band Keel). Shortly later he teamed up with Graham Bonnet to join Alcatrazz, declining similar offers by Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne and U.F.O. That relationship lasted for one studio album and the follow-up live set before the band dissolved.
Malmsteen was not unemployed for long for 'Polydor' soon after offered him a solo deal at a time when his reputation of knowing his way around guitars was growing. He joined forces with Barriemore Barlow (ex-Jethro Tull; drums), Jeff Scott Soto (vocals) and Jens Johansson (keyboards) for his solo debut Rising Force, featuring new tracks as well as reworked demo material. Soto, Johansson, and he, would continue in band formation adding bassist Marcel Jacob and drummer Anders Johansson under the moniker Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force. Under this formation, two albums resulted, Marching Out (1985) and Trilogy (1986), the former saw Soto and Jacob replaced by Mark Boals (ex-Ted Nugent) and showed Malmsteen's ability to combine speed with melody.
Malmsteen and crew would take an 18 month break after Malmsteen, himself, was in a car accident. When they returned with Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Rainbow) on vocals and Bob Daisley (ex-Rainbow) on bass, the resulting Odyssey received acclaim when it was released in 1988, it also got him his highest charting for his career at 40 U.S. (27 U.K). The guitar solos were controlled within the structure and didn't detract from the song as a whole. The songs were more "song" orientated and were now cut down to a manageable length. It showed his crew as being a part of the commercial Hard Rock membership with the guitar solos more controlled by fitting in with the rest of the music without dominating it. The album made it to a U.S. 40 charting on Billboard, their best ever, quite an accomplishment considering most of his others hovered in the 60's, 50's and high 40's, but never managed to drop this low.
Desiring a hat trick, Malmsteen launched a hasty follow-up recorded in Leningrad titled Trial By Fire: Live In Leningrad (1989). Barry Dunnaway was the new recruit for bass and vocals. The album proved to be a massive disappointment; it appeared that their momentum was lost. Joe Lynn Turner got the blame and was sacked, and replaced with Goran Edman. A massive re-think of sorts happened resulting in much of the rest of band also being sacked for an all-Swedish line-up. Keeping only himself and Edman, he added Mats Olausson (keyboards), Svante Henryson (bass/vocals) and Michael Von Knorring (drums). He also changed the name of his operation to just Yngwie Malmsteen (dropping the "Rising Force" bit). The resulting release, Eclipse (1990), helped them not one iota by featuring weak vocals and an overly restrained Malmsteen. It would also mark the end of his tenure with 'Polydor' and his start with 'Elektra'.
Fire And Ice (1992) debuted at number 1 in Japan, a nice come back for them at least in one part of the world, but was considered as dull in much of the rest of the world, barely making it into the top 60 (at 57 in the U.K.); his last to chart. It also featured new vocalist Mike Viscera replacing Edman and Bo Werner on drums.
Seventh Sign (1994) would follow in 1994 on the 'Music For Nations' label, with No Mercy quickly following it the same year. No Mercy featured Malmsteen up to his old tricks of bombastic classical guitar styles and even included a full string orchestra; it was recorded for 'CMC', as a side project off his regular label. Small changes of little consequence would accompany his regular follow-ups of the releases Magnum Opus (1995) and Inspiration (1996). More recently his releases of Facing The Animal (1997), Yngwie Malmsteen Live!! (1998), a live effort Alchemy (1999; with Mark Boals on vocals and Barry Dunnaway on bass), and War To End All Wars (2000; with Dunnaway now away) would be released but failed to chart significantly, as did the follow-up Attack! (2002), featuring the line-up of Doogie White (ex-Rainbow; vocals), Yngwie Malmsteen (guitar), Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater; keyboards) and Patrik Johansson (drums).