REVIEW: Yngwie Malmsteen – Parabellum


Guitar fans are a crazy bunch. In other forms of art, no one rates a great artist on how fast they paint, write, or sculpt. Yet, there was a time when metal guitarists in particular were ranked on the basis of how many funny little notes they could squeeze into a musical bar – and in terms of speed and tricks, Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen has been the undisputed king of the hill ever since the release of his 1984 debut “Rising Force.” His neoclassical metal shreddings over the years have indeed sounded like Paganini laced with amphetamine and as his upcoming studio album, “Parabellum,” due out on July 23rd, 2021 via Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group, goes to show, he is still standing for the uncompromising ”more is more” approach to music. Such overindulgence most definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it has its moments. While I have never been one of his most devoted fans, I must admit to listening to his 1990 album “Eclipse” as a guilty pleasure every now and then. Well, some people put pineapple on their pizza or watch Temptation Island on TV. On occasion, A little bit of pyrotechnical guitar noodling won’t do any harm.

As a signature, Malmsteen has always flirted with classical music. Even some of the new song titles, “Presto Vivace in C# minor” and ”Toccata,” give it away. Presto Vivace means literally ”lively and fast” – and Malmsteen sure gets that right. Toccata is a form of classical composition typically for a keyboard instrument, designed to exhibit the performer’s touch and technique. So, yes – the flashy and ultra-fast trademark Yngwie Malmsteen arpeggios are omnipresent on “Parabellum” too. After all, it is the bread-and-butter trait in his playing style. If you are particularly fond of such, you will be in for a good ride. On top of that, the new album is endearingly old-fashioned, hitting more close to home with the heavy metal aesthetics of the 1980s than the latest polyrhythmic and glitchy fads of modern metal. For instance, the opening track, “Wolves At the Door,” channels the Joe Lynn Turner -era RAINBOW with a strong neoclassical coating. In a way, the new album is a pleasant time-warp to the early days of heavy metal. Had the guitar maestro restrained himself from assaulting the listener with such an onslaught of rapid-fire legatos and frantic sweep picking, the album would feel a little bit less like a guitar decathlon. Then again, it wouldn’t probably sound like Yngwie Malmsteen at all.

I guess there really is no polite way to say it. You may categorize Malmsteen any way you wish but at the end of the day, he is a kind of a one-trick pony. There is even a ballad on “Parabellum,” but it is just another framework to shoot them rapid little notes forward. However, Malmsteen performs that single trick extremely well. He sure can make his fingers dance very quickly across the guitar fretboard and shoot those machine-gun staccato notes par excellence. Whether we like to admit it or not, he is a prominent guitarist – and he can write pleasantly old-schoolish neoclassical heavy metal etudes without batting an eye. Personally, I feel that his music calls for a special mindset and occasion. I wouldn’t put his new record on, say, when driving home from work down the E3 highway – I’d probably just get a speeding ticket. When I want to zone out on an excess of notes and switch my mind off the brutal grind of my everyday life, Yngwie is my man.

Written by Jani Lehtinen


  1. Wolves At the Door
  2. Presto Vivace in C# minor
  3. Relentless Fury
  4. (Si Vis Pacem) Parabellum
  5. Eternal Bliss
  6. Toccata
  7. God Particle
  8. Magic     Bullet
  9. (Fight) The Good Fight
  10. Sea Of Tranquility


Yngwie Malmsteen – guitars


Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group