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Review: Yngwie Malmsteen - Facing the Animal
Yngwie Malmsteen
Facing the Animal

Label: Sony
Year released: 1997
Duration: 63:35
Tracks: 14
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: September 3, 2009
Reviewed by: Hermer Arroyo
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Rated 3.53/5 (70.59%) (17 Votes)

This is Malmsteen's 9th studio album and there is some good news and bad news that comes with Facing the Animal. The good: this is an Yngwie Malmsteen album. The bad: this is an Yngwie Malmsteen album. There is very little that differentiates this record from the previous ones, so whether you are a fan or not, this album won't change your opinion about him. However when listening to this album there is one significant aspect that I noticed here and that is that the disc for the first time in a while is a band effort rather than a platform for Malmsteen to showboat. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of the guitar shredding and wizardry that we've come to expect from him but this time it is a more unified group effort.

Songs like "Braveheart", "My Resurrection" and the title track are some of his best songs of the 90's, in fact one could argue that this is most accessible album during that decade. Not only are Malmsteen's guitar leads awesome (as always), but also you'll remember the choruses in most of the songs after they are over. Another thing that I found odd in this album is the lack of instrumentals; there is only one here, "Air on a Theme", which lasts less than two minutes and coming from him it is surprising to say the least. Not that I am complaining though, as most of his instrumentals are a chance to show off his classical tendencies rather than writing original pieces.

The rest of the band as always is in top shape. With the exception of keyboardist Mats Olausson, this is a totally revamped band. Each musician does his job appropriately but the biggest change here is vocalist Mats Leven. Like Mike Vescera, he has the necessary power and charisma to give the songs an identity, making his only appearance on a studio album a good one. The keyboards serve more as a backdrop this time, they don't take the lead very often, instead they provide a nice atmosphere to the songs as is in the case of "Enemy". Bass duties are handled by Barry Dunaway. He does a good job and I was surprised that his instrument can be heard throughout the album especially on the title track. This is also one of the last records in which legendary drummer Cozy Powell was on, he does as good of a job here as any record that he has played before his untimely death.

This is easily one of his best records of the 90's, but much like his outputs of that decade, there is some filler to be found. Some examples are the good but generic ballad "Like an Angel", the below average "Alone in Paradise", the bland instrumental "Air on a Theme" or most of the riffs found here. At the end of the day, Facing the Animal is a solid record that takes time to get used to. And while it is an improvement over his previous 90's albums, it doesn't have that timeless classic sound that his early albums had.

More about Yngwie Malmsteen...
Review: Alchemy (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Eclipse (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Fire and Ice (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Marching Out (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Odyssey (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Relentless (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: The Seventh Sign (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Trilogy (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
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