27/11/2018: “Rising Force” by Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen is hardly the only guitarist to use incredibly fast shredding techniques to play supersonic solos and racing riffs.

But he’s easily one of the best. His brand of lightning quick neo-classical metal (metal incorporating ideas and techniques from classical guitar)  is very 80s, but very cool. He’s been rated by Time magazine as being the 9th best guitar player of all time.

One of the reasons that he is maybe more obscure is because a lot of his songs are so intensely fast. But there are plenty of tracks that, although admittedly pacey, are very much catchy metal tunes.

“Rising Force” is a blur of shredding and soloing. However, Malmsteen has crafted a particularly accessible head banger with this. His vocals are surprising good, and the melodies are classic. The song is rhythmically quite complex, as you might expect from a classically influenced guitarist.

Where the song really gets awesome is the guitar solos. He runs up and down arpeggios and scales at truly astounding speeds, which isn’t the most expressive style of soloing, it’s true, but it’s awesome to listen to!

“Rising Force” was released in 1988 on the album Odyssey, which is slightly confusing because he released an album called Rising Force in 1984.

06/11/2018: “Orion” by Metallica

To be honest, although he isn’t a bad singer by any means, I’ve never been a particularly big fan of metal singing, and Metallica frontman James Hetfield can sometimes have that, in my opinion, over-dramatic metal style.

“Orion” places the focus on the bands legendary guitar skills, and also Cliff Burton’s bass playing. He wrote large parts of the song, including the bridge and bass solo. It’s a fitting tribute to his skill, as he was tragically killed in a bus crash while touring promoting Master Of Puppets,  the album this song is from.

What truly blows my mind is that I didn’t even realise that the solos at about 1 minute 40 and about 6 30 are actually bass solos. Fantastic!

It’s truly epic, with a slow, majestic intro dropping into furious guitar shredding overlaid with a healthy dose of more laidback riffs. The bass driven interlude in the middle is much slower, and splits the song into a blisteringly fast thrash metal first half, and a powerful ballad which descends into hard rock.

In truth, descriptions don’t really do justice to the scale and impressiveness of this song. Every single second of the 8 minutes that this song has is used to great effect. It’s seriously good. The guitar riffs are insane, and they’d have to be considering as the song is instrumental…

The Master Of Puppets album, released in 1986, is widely considered one of the best heavy metal albums ever made.

RIP Cliff Burton



24/07/2018: “Symptom Of The Universe” by Black Sabbath

“Symptom Of The Universe” kicks off with a powerful, crunchy guitar riff, thrashing away furiously. The drums are thick and fast, with plenty of cymbal action.

Then Ozzy Osbourne sings in his inimitable style, leading the rest of the song, which includes some sick guitar solos by the legendary Tony Iommi, and ends the last two minutes with a completely different folksy style.

The incongruous feel of the end is because that last bit stems from an impromptu jam session. Not bad for a day’s work.

It’s a great example of how Black Sabbath’s proto-metal didn’t lack the sophistication of some of their peers. They were heavy metal pioneers, light years ahead of their time, with talent in spades.

The song was released on Sabotage in 1975, so named because the band was drowning in legal issues trying to get their due.

Metal so heavy even Thor couldn’t lift it!