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Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force 

Attack!! (Red Ink/Epic)

Yes, okay, fine; there's a song on this album called "Baroque & Roll." Now stop laughing, because it's really good. This whole album is, in fact.

For all its fraternal rhetoric, metal's often as trendy as any genre, and stubborn individualism often inspires an urge to scoff that's hard to resist. Yngwie Malmsteen's been a joke in U.S. metal circles for years -- his ego and refusal to make concessions ensured that. But two decades after his solo debut, Malmsteen has released an album that's likely to get about 1 percent of the attention it deserves. Attack!! is unapologetic, classically influenced power metal, the stuff Yngwie's been playing for eons.

After 10 years of downtuned post-Korn throb-throb, an hour or so of spark-shooting Strat sounds pretty goddamn great. The rest of the band keeps up throughout. Only the drummer's a letdown; his unsubtle thwack sometimes reduces the material to pedestrian blues-rock. Someone on the level of Opeth's Martin Lopez would have made Attack!! a modern metal classic. As it is, it's just much, much better than the words "2004 Yngwie Malmsteen album" imply.

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