Part 6 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

As a young kid the music played on the radio was a strange mix of hair metal and hip hop. I took it all in, absorbing every little piece of music I could (at 10 or 11, it’d be some time before I figured out alternate ways of discovering bands). I remember listening to the “Top 40” countdown in my room – I’d bring down the two speakers and lay in between them, lost in the sound. The best days happened on the weekends when my friend and I would be given $10 (or $20) and off to downtown Hatboro, PA we would go. We had basically two choices – the Hatboro Music Shop or a shop called The Right Note.

My personal music collection consisted of tapes by White Lion, Def Leppard, and Aerosmith. Only one of those records is something I still listen to, to this day (White Lion). The reason being is the insane guitar techniques of Vito Bratta – the original guitarist for White Lion. At the time they got lumped in with other hair metal bands, but if you revisit the 4 albums released from 1984 to 1991 you may be surprised that they hold up surprisingly well. Vito Bratta was on record as saying he had been inspired by the guitar techniques of Yngwie J. Malmsteen – so of course I had to add this to my list of “artists to check out”. Though he started to repeat himself fairly quickly (there are only so many ways you can shred as fast as you can I suppose), his “Trilogy” album has always been a favorite of mine.

The album starts out with an incredible pop metal anthem “You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget” – absolute perfection. Guitars shred at blinding speed, chorus is very catchy. Mark Boals vocals tug at the emotions as he sings “When you left, you broke my heart / And just to see. / How many pieces there would be, / After you leave me. / You don’t remember, I’ll never forget / You just don’t remember, I’ll never forget”

The 2nd song, “Liar” is more of a speed metal song, less hooks but equally rewarding. Yngwie’s solo is absolutely blistering in its speed and execution. Key lyrics “You came to me / said you were my friend / I shared my heart and my mind. / You found it easier / To steal than create. / Then call it your’s, though it’s mine / You can’t fight, what is right / / Face the truth, liar / You can’t feel, you just steal / Face the truth, liar”

“Queen is in Love” is a song that should have been played on the radio (more than it was) in the mid 80’s. It is a perfect pop metal song with the added bonus of a speed metal solo.

“Crying” is the kind of instrumental guitar song that Yngwie earned his well deserved reputation as a guitar god with. Acoustic picking with emotive synths in the background.

“Fury” starts off with very angry sounds, Mark Boals is singing as if his life depends on it. Layers and layers of guitars, frenzied in a speed metal fashion. Key lyrics “No, it’s burning like a flame / Now nothing seems the same / I’ve lost control of mind and body / My soul is in its hand / It’s wish is my command / Enslaved forever by the fury / By the fury, no!”

“Fire” has a feel very similar to “Fury” until the music fades away and focuses on a synth / vocal breakdown. This song has a very 80’s feel to it (as opposed to timeless like most of the album). I would consider this one a “deep album cut”, necessary for the flow of the record.

“Magic Mirror” brings back a very dark feel….reminds me a bit of Black Sabbath (though much faster). Yngwie’s guitar playing can only be called inspired on this one. Key lyrics “Everyone is searching for the / Meaning of our life. / Reading ’bout the hell and heaven / Believing all those lies.”

“Dark Ages” sounds like something out of…uh…the dark ages. Almost a Viking metal feel to this one. Another deep album cut, essential to the flow of the record.

The album ends with “Trilogy Suite Op: 5” which can best be described as classical music played on the guitar. It is absolutely epic and one of my favorite instrumental pieces ever.

I highly recommend you seek this record out – even if you are not inclined towards metal (in any of its forms). This is a music lovers album and has endlessly amazed me since I first heard it at the ripe old age of 11.

Join me next week as I discuss Live’s Mental Jewelry

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