The man who popularized neoclassical shred guitar well beyond Randy Rhoads’ contributions with Ozzy Osbourne continues to make albums to this day. You heard that right, Yngwie’s still at it and he’s back with another record entitled Parabellum. In contrast to the past where he would have vocalists like Tim “Ripper” Owens and Jeff Scott Soto handling the vox, for this one and the last few albums Yngwie’s been covering that aspect on his own and not badly either. Other than that, nothing is too far out of the ordinary on the veteran arpeggio aficionado’s latest effort, starting with the vintage power metal of “Wolves At The Door” and the trademark Yngwie frenzy of “Presto Vivace in #C minor”, a piece he had previously tackled in 1998.
From there we get the ever-so-’80s “Relentless Fury” and another instrumental cut with “(Si Vis Pacem) Parabellum”, sliding from there into “Eternal Bliss” which at first sounds like “Graduation” by Vitamin C but blossoms into a colourful ballad a la Scorpions. Next is the heap of sweeps known as “Toccata”, offset by the acoustic/electric sandwich on “God Particle”. “Magic Bullet” takes it right back to unrelenting shreddery, effectively shifting back into power metal with “(Fight) The Good Fight” then fittingly into one last final shredder, the 8-minute “Sea Of Tranquility”. It’s mighty ironic that Yngwie chose to call it that given the nonstop fretboard dance happening from front to fadeout on this track, but to each their own definition of serenity, axe master.
The moral of Parabellum: Expect nothing less and nothing more from Yngwie Malmsteen. Yngwie carved out a lane for himself many years ago and endures continuously in the decades since, not needing to reinvent the wheel but continuing to dazzle with what he has created and crafted to perfection. Shred records aren’t for everyone, but for those who have an appreciation or even a guilty pleasure for this stuff, especially the Yngwie diehards, this is a fiery 56 and a half minutes to keep in your playlist. The longer guys of his caliber and above keep playing the better, because if the last and current generation has produced little if any guitar heroes, somebody has to stick around and show the next crop of the kids in their parents’ garage the way. It’s not over ’til the axe-man can’t play a scale.