MARK BOALS
"The Edge Of The World"

(Frontiers)

01. Fly
02. World On Fire
03. Lady Babylon
04. Taking Control
05. Up To You
06. Between Two Mirrors
07. Garden Of Pain
08. Too Late
09. Through The Endless Night
10. Trouble In Paradise
11. Crossfire
12. The Criminal
13. Hold On (To Our Love)

RATING: 7.5/10

It's small wonder that this singer can come up with anything remotely musically coherent considering he's trudged the mental treadmill that is YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN'S RISING FORCE for two separate terms, and consequently twice dropped ungraciously through the exit trapdoor at the end — though it's worth noting of course that he isn't entirely absolved of blame during his final tenure from making the YNG's "War To End All Wars" such a turkey, with a monumentally weedy vocal delivery.

Mud like this in musical terms, as we all know, sticks like a Velcro beard, so when you take a introductory spin of Boals's third solo album, and discover that it isn't the lame disasterpiece you'd anticipated, you know there's hope left for journeymen musicians everywhere. That it's certainly two tracks too long (tellingly the two tail-end plodders, "The Criminal" and "Hold On (To Our Love)" ) isn't entirely unexpected. But that the remainder often crackle with power and passion and slug you square in the chest on bottom end-laden outings like "World On Fire" is a pleasant surprise, when cynics might claim that Boals would turn out any old shit to revamp a sagging career.

If this were the case, then a guitarist with the string-shredding calibre of Tony McAlpine wouldn't be along for the ride. Likewise for reserve BLACK SABBATH sticksman Vinny Appice and PLANET X pounder Virgil Donati. Contrary to the concept of the overload of "techie" musicians turning this album into impenetrable musical soup, to their credit they all manage to keep it relatively simple, with each song never sacrificing the powerful riff in favor of lunatic fret-wanking or out-of-place drum signatures. "Crossfire" is the catchiest ace in the pack, which could be up there with some of the most notable metal standards of the last twelve months — as opposed to inexplicably acclaimed dross by third-raters like HAMMERFALL.

Although "The Edge Of The World" could never be deemed groundbreaking, it's a solid and, as we've already noted, catchy little affair. Boals can evidently afford himself a glance over his shoulder at the misfiring output of a certain Swede and afford himself a wry smile.

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