Album review: RING OF FIRE – Battle of Leningrad

Frontiers [Released 24th JKanuary 2014]

Mark Boals, most famous for being one of Yngwie Malmsteen’s ever changing vocalists, regroups his Ring of Fire moniker for the first time since Lapse of Reality was released back in 2004. Battle of Leningrad is a concept neo-classical metal album telling the true story of the siege of Leningrad by the Nazi’s during the second world war.

Returning with Mark Boals are guitar virtuoso Tony Macalpine and classically trained Vitalij Kuprij on keyboards. Extra bodies in the form of Former Stratovarius leader Timo Tolkki and fellow Finn Jami Huovinen handle bass and drum duties respectively.

Mother Russia kicks things off with a marching drum beat and a bit of background of the Russian people, Empire introduces the Nazi army into the equation, Land of Frozen Tears set the scene, before the Battle of Leningrad itself. Our World and Rain depict the desolate aftermath.

All you need to know about the music is that it is a cross between early Yngwie Malmsteen and primetime Stratovarius. The aforementioned Land of Frozen Tears is the big ballad on here with its quiet acoustic start. Epic numbers are the title track and the atmospheric Firewind which moves from extended instrumental intro to quiet classical piano flourishes during the verses, intensifying slowly through the bridge and into the bombast of the chorus.

Closing number Rain washes everything away but leaves you with the reality of the hardship endured during the 900 day siege – “…the only thing left is the pain”.

Nice artwork again depicting the destruction of Leningrad with Nazi tanks crushing the skulls of the fallen inhabitants.

This one is a definite grower where more of the intricacies are revealed with each subsequent play. History lesson and neo-classical overload all in a compact 52 minutes…what more could you possibly want?


Review by Phil Berisford

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