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Ring Of Fire: Battle Of Leningrad

You hear the phrase Super Group all too readily these days. However I'd argue that there really isn't another description for any band featuring the vocal talents of one time Yngwie and Royal Hunt man Mark Boals and guitarist extraordinaire Tony MacAlpine. Add to that the keyboard whizz Vitalij Kuprij (Artension), the bass talent of Timo Tolkki (Stratovarius) and drumming of Jami Huovinen (Sentiment) and Ring Of Fire are an outfit to be reckoned with. After combining with MacAlpine on his aptly titled solo album, Ring Of Fire, Boals recorded the first album from the band which took that solo album's name, featuring George Bellas of UFO on guitars for The Oracle. Although MacAlpine returned for Dreamtower and Lapse of Reality, the latter being released in 2004.

So the best part of a decade down the line and RoF are back, Boals and MacAlpine rejoined by Kuprij, who also appeared on this band's first two albums. Known for a Neo-Symphonic style, there's no great step change here, the basic blueprint being soaring vocals, thunderous drums and fiery guitar-key interplay, with huge gang vocals to seal the deal. However what you can be assured of is that with the ridiculous standard of musicianship on display, the results spark and bite with energy; Boals delivering every word with a self assured confidence that embellishes a concept based round the bloody, barbaric struggle over Leningrad during World War II hence Battle For Leningrad.

Gory and almost beyond belief as it is, the concept lends itself superbly to this bombastic, yet at times introspective setting and the subject is handled well. Boals gives real heart and soul to tales both personal and global in consequence, while the drama afforded by the music hits the mark with equal precision. The likes of "Mother Russia", "Empire", "Firewind" and the excellent title track bristling with a pride which echoes that of the city's inhabitants during these awful times and serves as fitting tribute.

It isn't however all foot to the floor, huge chorused sabre rattling, keyboard and voice often coming to the fore in a more considered and emotional style, with the different musical aspects combined expertly across the likes of "Land Of Frozen Tears" or "Our World". However there's no denying that it is the all out assaults that make the strongest impact and live longest in the memory on Battle For Leningrad; something that will leave fans of this genre completely satisfied.

There are many, possibly too many albums and bands operating in this crowded market, however every now and again an album comes around that reminds us why we came to be seduced by this style in the first place. While not quite up to classic standard, Battle For Leningrad from Ring Of Fire is certainly one of those albums.


Track Listing
1. Mother Russia
2. They're Calling Your Name
3. Empire; Land Of Frozen Tears
4. Firewind
5. Where Angels Play
6. Battle Of Leningrad
7. No Way Out
8. Our World
9. Rain

Added: April 5th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Mark Boals Music
Hits: 3169
Language: english

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Ring Of Fire: Battle Of Leningrad
Posted by Scott Jessup, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-04-05 22:22:57
My Score:

Ring Of Fire return to the format of those first two albums with their comeback Battle Of Leningrad. Dream Tower and Lapse Of Reality saw the band increasingly moving away towards a more progressive sound from the neo-classical metal of the Mark Boals' solo album Ring If Fire and the following band release The Oracle. The Oracle had its moments though some of the lyrics and songs turned me off that album, Ring Of Fire had more appeal for myself especially with tracks like "Atlantis". Neo-classical metal is something I enjoyed but could never listen to over and over, as much of it tends to get monotonous after a while. It's just the nature of this kind of metal I suppose with the mostly blistering pace and solos which many times leads to a strong feeling of deja vu or simply the need to take a breather.


Mark Boals still has a strong set of pipes that remain on high demand, I recently read about yet another band he is appearing with. Drummer/composer Virgil Donati is absent from this album and maybe that lack of progressive music is due in part to that lack of his influence, or perhaps they simply wanted to go back to the band's earlier style. So without Donati I was sceptical about how this new album might sound, then after hearing some snippets of Mcalpine's guitar work on "Mother Russia" one of the strongest tracks I felt that I needed to look further, "Empire" is another with some cool music. I'm sure there will be others who do like what they hear as the other two reviews show. But despite the occasional highlight and usual polished musicianship there's simply not a lot that has me interested. The World War II themed Battle Of Leningrad isn't Ring Of Fire's best work to date.




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