"Facing the Animal" (Polygram; 1998)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

If you have listened to anything by shred master Yngwie J. Malmsteen then you know exactly what each release holds. It's when you play the disc that you really get the full effect. Since picking up the guitar after seeing Hendrix pass away, Mr. Malmsteen has been the cause of blistered fingers and carpal tunnel for anyone who dares to run the guitar neck in search of his lightning fast playing.

Just because Yngwie has the talent to smoke a guitar into ashes doesn’t mean he always does. This disc has keyboards and some Irish guitar, too. He does satisfy those who just want to hear an incredible scale run, but he also uses his talent of composition to show he’s not just a one dimensional player. 

Holding the mic on this release is Mats Leven. Leven is a powerhouse in the Swedish metal world, and the guy has more albums under his belt than anyone in his stable. The drums are a rare capture indeed ... this was the last project Cozy Powell played on before his death.

Some highlights on this barn burner include, “Braveheart,” which features a riff from Gary Moore’s song “Over The Hills And Far Away.” I’m a huge Gary Moore fan so to have those two complimenting each other is a call for attention. 

Since Yngwie’s playing is usually the main focus of any CD he releases, the lyrics often take a back seat to his fast-forward guitar competency, but this release has a song for his wife April. I wouldn’t call it a love song, but its one of the slowest tracks I think I’ve heard him create.

Mats Leven helps to create a few tracks that have great vocals, the kind that a stadium of people would be singing along with. I found this disc to have more vocal-friendly tracks that Yngwie’s earlier stuff. Mats left the band after this disc; he did, however, contribute to some of the songs listed on “Attack!!”

There is one instrumental on this disc, entitled, “Air On A Theme.” I’m not sure why it's there - it times in at only 1:44 and it closes the disc out rather oddly. Some printings have a bonus track, maybe that’s what its missing.

Performing on "Facing the Animal" are Yngwie J. Malmsteen – guitars, keyboards, bass and backing vocals; Mats Leven – vocals; Mats Olausson – keyboards; Barry Dunaway – bass; Cozy Powell – drums.

For more information, check out http://www.yngwie.org

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 07 Aug 2023 20:46:40 -0400.