By now, most Malmsteen fans have probably aquired this package, but for those who haven’t -– here’s a few reasons why you definitely should. This is indeed a true gem for fans of the shredding Swede, featuring re-mastered versions of two classic VHS releases -- Trial By Fire – Live in Leningrad as well as Rising Force Live in Japan back in 1985, featuring a 22-year old Yngwie and a 20-year old Jeff Scott Soto showing off in an absolutely breathtaking manner. This performance goes to show what (80’s) Heavy Metal is all about: insane wigs, ridiculous costumes, “oh-I-make-you-feel-so-hot-baby” dance moves -– and some fantastic songs executed to perfection by some insanely talented young men.
The contrast between the two gigs is striking: one (Leningrad ’89) being more than anything else a “how stoned is it possible to be and still deliver a good Rock show” contest, while the other is every good thing stated above and probably even more of it too. Still, the set list from the Trial By Fire show is pure dynamite, featuring the highlights from the Trilogy and Odyssey albums. Not all songs are included on this DVD, but with “Rising Force,” “Liar,” “Queen In Love,” “Déjà Vu,” “You Don’t Remember…,” “Crystal Ball,” “Heaven Tonight,” and “Riot In The Dungeons” present, the fans should be more than happy. The sound on this recording is still not top-notch, despite the re-mastering, as on the original VHS it’s rather on the woolly side, lacking in presence and clarity.
It is also fascinating to see how differently Joe Lynn Turner and Jeff Scott Soto approach the songs; whereas Soto attacks each note with the passion and blood thirst of the Viking he claims to be (during “I Am A Viking,” that is), Turner is far more laid-back and Rockstar-like in every way. Despite the difference in age and experience, it’s clearly Soto that comes out as the winner of the imaginary duel, and he and Malmsteen were indeed one hell of a pairing. Musically, both Malmsteen and his Rising Force deliver the goods in the regular fashion, and a guy like Anders Johansson plays far better here than he does with Hammerfall today –- some 20 years after. As a matter of fact, the original Rising Force was one hell of a band, tight as a music critic’s brain, and with that spark of Scandinavian humor so brilliantly displayed by Jens Johansson as he plays while running around his keyboard.
The showmanship and stage appearance is very, VERY 80's, and Yngwie’s many wives are the only things that can make a poor viewer believe he’s not on, erm, the Halford side of things after having watched the ass and leg movements on display here. Soto’s rhythmic wagging looks just as cool (or ridiculous, if you wish) as Turner’s arrogant “look I’m so hot” stage walks, which indeed is a good thing. To put it short, every fan of 80's Metal in general and Malmsteen in particular should purchase this DVD a.s.a.p.
By the way, the bonus features are actually quite cool too –- the original promo videos for “Heaven Tonight,” “Bedroom Eyes,” and “Save Our Love,” an in-depth interview with Yngwie (done last year exclusively for this compilation), and an on-screen tablature option for “I’ll See The Light Tonight” and “You Don’t Remember…” for the "wannabe geetar heroes" out there.