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Review: Ring of Fire - Battle of Leningrad
Ring of Fire
Battle of Leningrad

Label: Frontiers Records
Year released: 2014
Duration: 52:20
Tracks: 10
Genre: Power Metal


Review online: May 6, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
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Rated 3/5 (60%) (3 Votes)

Battle of Leningrad is the fourth album from multi-national super group Ring of Fire and comes nearly 10 years after their last release, 2004's Lapse of Reality. I had never heard of Ring of Fire prior to Battle of Leningrad, even though some very well known musicians fill the ranks. Tony MacAlpine burns up the fret board, Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Vitalij Kuprij handles the keys and ex-Stratovarius axe-wielder Timo Tolkki is on bass. As I listened to the Neo-classical Power Metal pumping from my speakers, I kept thinking it sounded a lot like Yngwie Malmsteen's late 80s stuff and the singer reminded me of Trilogy vocalist Mark Boals. Yeah, that's because it IS Mark Boals. At least my ears still work. Boals may not hit the highest of highs or have the grittiest shout, but he's a fine singer and is in good form on Battle of Leningrad.

As I mentioned, the album is chock full of Neo-classical Power Metal that should hit the sweet spot for fans of Rhapsody, Ancient Bards, Kaledon and the host of other bands playing this style. The subject matter is historical, focusing on the World War II Battle of Leningrad (natch), rather than the usual swords and dragons theme. The playing is excellent, as you would expect from such a star-studded lineup and standout tracks include "Mother Russia" and "Firewind." MacAlpine makes you wonder why he has never been included in conversations about talented players like Malmsteen and Satriani. If you are guitar fan, go out and find his 1987 album Maximum Security and try to keep up with him on the track "Hundreds of Thousands." The keyboards provide perfect counter point and the rhythm section of Tolkki and drummer Jami Huovinen is rock solid. The songs on Battle of Leningrad sound quite a bit like much of the other Neo-classical stuff out there today and come across a bit generic. There are also a few moments where the music gets a bit too mainstream, particularly "Where Angels Play." The opening keyboard riff sounds like it was lifted from a DeBeers diamond commercial. At the end of the day, this might not be the most innovative album, but when it is on, I'm singing along at the top of my voice.

Sometimes, when you bring many hugely talented musicians together, the result is directionless, as everyone tries to take center stage. Ring of Fire seems to have their roles well defined and, as a result, Battle of Leningrad is a solid, focused album. It isn't changing the face of Power Metal but Neo-classical fans will want to check it out as quality is quality.

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