Released By : Frontiers Records
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre : Neoclassical Power Metal, Progressive Metal
Mark Boals – vocals
Tony MacAlpine – guitars
Vitalij Kuprij – keyboards
Timo Tolkki – bass
Jami Huovinen- drums
They’re Calling Your Name
Land Of Frozen Tears
Where Angels Play
Battle Of Leningrad
No Way Out
Ahhh… The famed ‘concept’ album. The type of release that has time and time again either shot a band into the stratosphere or sunk them quicker than a snitch in a set of concrete boots. It’s a rather big risk to take, especially for a band that hasn’t released any material for almost ten years. The band in question of course is RING OF FIRE, a supergroup of sorts put together by the multi-octave frontman Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen/Royal Hunt), and also featuring guitar virtuoso Tony MacAlpine and ex-STRATOVARIUS bass guitarist Timo Tollki. They are also joined by Jami Huovinen on drums and ARTENSION keyboard magician Vitalij Kuprij.
The album itself follows a concept about the Siege Of Leningrad, one of the most intense battles of World War II, which lasted over two years and resulted in millions of casualties when German forces attempted to take the Russian city of Leningrad only to be met with an army that wasn’t willing to give in. Many civilians perished, thousands of homes and building were destroyed, but eventually the Germans were forced to retreat, resulting in possibly one of the most impressive, but tragic victories of the entire war. As this review isn’t meant to be a history lesson I’ll leave it there, but if you have some time it’s certainly an interesting topic to research.
The band stick true to the concept throughout the entire album and the depths of Boals’ lyrics show a deep understanding of the subject matter. Musically the band also do a great job of setting certain tones that suit what each song is about. The war drums at the beginning of opening track MOTHER RUSSIA and the frenetic pace of WHERE ANGELS PLAY are both a perfect example of this. Mark Boals delivers yet another very impressive vocal effort, and the combination of his impressive octave range and his ability to hold notes gives the album plenty of raw emotion and a great base to build off. Cleverly though, each individual member of the band get several opportunities to shine. Tony MacAlpine’s crazy shredding lead-breaks are everywhere, but he is also a master at slower, moody riffs, which sound truly amazing with his punchy guitar tone. Kuprij’s keyboard also gets plenty of up-front time and he truly makes the most of each of his opportunities.
There have already been plenty of reviews for this album posted across the web, and for the most part it seems that the general view is that the album is good, but not great. I have to say though, I just don’t get it…I personally love BATTLE OF LENINGRAD and am sure it will be one of my favorite albums of the year. Melodic but ballsy vocals, amazing musicianship, big production and lyrics that actually have the most of their subject matter…Good enough for me!
Written by Zeezee