RING OF FIRE – Dreamtower

RING OF FIRE - Dreamtower


Frontiers Records
Release date: March 25, 2003

User Review
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It’s amazing to hear how much Mark Boals vocals have improved since his work on Yngwie Malsteen’s Trilogy. While Boals sounded fair on “You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget” and better on “Fire,” the song “Queen In Love” has to be one of the worst recorded vocals of the ‘80s. Mainly, he had a tendency to draw out the notes with an annoying vibrato, even worse when he goes falsetto. Luckily, he’s ironed out those problems and on Ring of Fire’s second release, Dreamtower, Boals is in good form.

The CD starts off with a song called “My Deja Vu.” The band does have a Malmsteen feel to them, but they are less serious (who isn’t) and more melodic. The chorus, “My deja vu, I still remember you, my dream come true, a feeling so strong …” will have you singing along as soon as the song starts, since that’s how they start it. One listen is all it takes.

The title song “Dreamtower” has a great feel to it as well. It’s a slower song, with a heavy chugging riff and intricate melodies. They write excellent choruses, and this is one of their strongest.

Tony MacAlpine is the guitarist for Ring of Fire, and while you can’t call him underrated, since everyone in the world knows about him, you will by wowed by his skills again and again. He has a clean, precise playing style, and from a technical standpoint, he’s so fluid and fast, it is somewhat surprising he’s not thrown around in the same terms as some of the other virtuosos. And with Planet X’s drummer Virgil Donati and bassist Philip Bynoe, this is as tight of a rhythm section one could hope for.

One of the slower songs, called “Blue Sky,” shows a softer side to the band. It’s basically a love song, and they don’t have too many on the disk. Another one, “Make Believe” works as well, and it is one of Boals’ strongest vocal moments.

“Phantasmagoric, kaleidoscopic stories, time metamorphic, in Laputa … Kingdom exotic, citizens aeronautic …” This is one of the songs you’ll wonder if they got out a thesaurus to find a rhyming scheme. The song is “Laputa,” and the lyrics are just, well, sort of funny. The song itself is cool though, and for Spanish speakers, throwing in a space and reading it “La puta” probably puts a smile on their faces.

One of the lesser tracks on the CD is called “System Utopia.” It is very disjointed and nothing flows, but was probably written this way, to parallel the meaning of the song. You’ll hear weird computerized sounds throughout the track, which are fairly annoying. The problem is, even if the effects are apropos, it’s still a bad song. They should probably call it “System Dystopia!” Hahaha! Oh sorry, bad joke …

The song “Invisible Man” has another catchy chorus. It’s sort of frenetic, with a cool intro, heavy bass guitar and stunning drumming. The guitar solo is one of the fastest on the CD as well, with double-bass going nuts in the background. You know it has to be one the band’s favorite songs to play live.

Dreamtower hits the mark on almost every point. Minus a couple vocal miscues (check out the scream at the end of “The Pharoah’s Curse”) and some strange lyrics ala “Make Believe” (Yesterday, seems like a long time ago, I found out what I still don’t know …), Ring of Fire’s Dreamtower is strong from the song 1-13. Now go get it.

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