It's been over twenty years since Yngwie Malmsteen's Inspiration album, where he first delved into his childhood love of the blues on a record. Roll on two decades and the maestro of the shred has returned with another blues-based album played, as the title would suggest, at lightning speed.
Most people know Malmsteen for his neo-classical guitar style in the rock genre, but the young Malmsteen would readily play along to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Although he's always tried to add a blues groove to some of his other work, don't be fooled into thinking that he's jumped ship and is playing a straight 12 bar blues for this record. Blue Lighting is a hybrid of the two genres, with the heavier drumming, the aggressive twang of the Fender, and a nod to Malmsteen's influences. Deep Purple's Demon's Eye and Smoke on the Water are prominent examples of this. Hendrix's Foxy Lady and Purple Haze have the familiar riffs but are overtaken by Malmsteen's frenetic exploration of the fretboard while the Stone's Paint it Black is given a Malmsteen makeover.
Much of the album was recorded in one or two takes, keeping the sound as fresh and energised as possible, with plenty of improvisation. This fluidity shows Malmsteen's skill and mastery over his technique when working with his covers. He's also pushed his own boundaries by recording Eric Clapton's Forever Man and While My Guitar Gently Weeps, two tracks that he wasn't sure he could pull off. The latter is really given the full Malmsteen treatment – there's nothing gentle about it. There are also four new tracks on the album, but it's his interpretations of classic tracks that make the album stand out.
With his fierce and adroit guitar work, Malmsteen embraces the essence of the songs and transforms them into a technical whirlwind.
Groupie rating 3/5