Monday, January 13, 2014

RING OF FIRE / Battle of Leningrad (2014)

The neo-classical super-group of RING OF FIRE is back with its brand new opus with the title "Battle Of Leningrad" through Frontiers Records. This is the band's fourth studio album after a 9 years hiatus, a period that has seen Ring Of Fire's members getting involved in other projects/bands.

Ring Of Fire features an impressive line-up from musicians that are well-known in this particular scene such as Mark Boals on lead vocals, Tony MacAlpine on guitars, Vitalij Kuprij on keyboards with Timo Tolkki bass and Jami Huovinen on drums completing this really stunning line-up. Ring of Fire reconvened with Boals, MacAlpine and Kurprij during 2012, when they agreed to work on their unfinished business and develop a new album from the true story of the siege of Leningrad during the WWII.

Mark Boals explains: “It is a true story of the strength and resilience of the Russian people throughout history and particularly in this instance of 900 days of being surrounded on all sides with no food and no hope of rescue, under siege of the Nazi army. The magnificent city of Leningrad with millions of people trapped, found a way to withstand the daily attacks of rockets and bombs, the lack of food, water, and fuel for heat. 
Although more than 1 million starved to death, most survived, and the Nazis were never able to overtake the city completely. They were finally forced to retreat by the Russian army. Not widely known by most, this was an amazing story and one of World War II's finest examples of heroism in the worst circumstances imaginable”.

"Battle Of Leningrad" starts with the epic and heavy tune of "Mother Russia". A classic neo-classic tune with a nice intro-riff and Boals solid performances; for sure not the impressive start that I've been looking forward listening to! Next, "They're Calling You" is better, faster and with a early Malmsteen vibe in it.  "Empire" is the first highlight from the new album; it features great arrangements, a solid rhythm, more melody and the piano parts gives to the whole song a cool approach. Another killer track is the amazing 80's power ballad of "Land Of Frozen Tears". Here Boals' vocals are simply stunning, emotional and the melody is heavenly influenced! Killer stuff!! "Firewind" is a very good song while "Where Angels Play" and "Battle Of Leningrad" are both good tunes with solid arrangements, powerful performances and both featuring some really inspired guitar lines. From the last three songs that are including here, the most impressive one is another ballad, "Our World". Beautiful track....just beautiful with a sweet melody that grabbed me immediately and made me push the repeat button several times.

Overall, this is a nice release that includes some excellent moment in it. In my humble opinion, the most excitement moments here are the slower tunes. Emotional songs that include beautiful melodies, great arrangements, inspired guitar parts and Boal's superb performances!! For sure, this is a highly recommended release that must be owned by each and every single fan of the so-called neo-classic scene and, of course, by any fan of the 'mighty' Mark Boals!!!
Heavy Paradise's Rating : 8/10

Track List :
Mother Russia; They’re Calling Your Name; Empire; Land Of Frozen Tears; Firewind; Where Angels Play; Battle Of Leningrad; No Way Out; Our World; Rain.

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