Ring of Fire - Burning Live in Tokio 2002 - 2003


New album of the American Ring of Fire. This time the famous singer Mark Boals´s band offers us a new double Live CD recorded during their last tour in Japan. It has been only one change in the line up since they published their first album called “The Oracle”. Tony MacAlpine substitutes George Bellas on the guitar due to not to be to the height of Ring of Fire.

The other members of the band are important idols inside the current musical panorama. Mark Boals on the voice who worked with Yngwie Malmsteen in several occasions. Philip Bynoe on bass guitar, which became famous as Steve Vai´s bass player. Virgil Donati (Planet X, On the Virg...) on Drums, considered one of the best drummers in the world like other monsters like Terry Bozzio and Dennis Chambers. Vitalij Kuprij on keyboards. Many will remember him for their band Artension and for their varied collaborations in different albums. Finally the guitarist Tony MacAlpine who is one of the best guitarists in the actual scene for his versatility like a musician.
The album is presented as a double CD with a deluxe design. Everything is presented as a great album that we will analyze subsequently.


Vitalij Kuprij takes the strings in the beginning of the show with an introduction to the basically Baroque organ opening the way to "Circle of Time" belonging to their first album. Already from the beginning of the track you can appreciate a terrible sound quality. An unpleasant surprise to begin the album. Regarding the execution of the song we cannot see any failure. Mark Boals & the other ones plays the songs almost exactly like in the original album. "City of the Dead" and "Vengeance for Blood" are the following tracks. The union of these musicians is sometimes strange. It can be appreciated clearly the different ways to play of each musician turning out to be a dangerously heterogeneous mixture. "Atlantis" and "Death Row" are the following tracks in those which continuous the virtuosity of this the musicians. "Samurai" is the name of the next track. This song is received with a great ovation by the Japanese fans due to its exotics."Dreams of Empire" returns loaded with the important injection of classic music that Kuprij usually gives to his songs. It’s necessary to highlight on this song the central part in which the ability of the musicians is incredible. To finish the listen of this first CD they leave us with a guitar solo played by Mr MacAlpine. Independently of his delight like musician we have to object that the sound of his guitar is poor on quality. We suppose that it will be a personal thing. Apart from this we find 5 minutes of virtuosity and technique with no time to rest. Ideal for fans of Malmsteen and other guitar lunatics.

After a little brake to relax the ears we take out the second CD and introduce it in the Cd-player:
The 2º compact begins with "Keeper of the Flame", the subtle ballad in which they show once again the epic look of their compositions. Time now for the individual splendor of the musicians of Ring of Fire. In this occasion is the turn of Philip Bynoe, which offers us a concise but effective bass solo. Without mediating word Virgil Donati continues with an about 6 minutes drum solo which turns out to be one one of the best of the night. "The Oracle", song that gives title to their previous album is the following song of the CD. Is in this track in which we can perceive the influence of the keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij, it even ends up seeming to an Artension song. After this song Vitalij takes the strings once again doing a good & complete solo in which he alternates piano pieces (so much classic as contemporary) full of virtuosity with solos and other crazy things (See the DVD). Without a doubt the best solo of the whole show. Something for that we were not prepared was the following piece. "E Lucevan Le Stelle", an opera piece sung almost a cappella by Mr Boals which demonstrates his great vocal technique. A pleasing surprise if we talk about a Heavy Metal show. The hardness returns to the show with "Bringer of Pain" and "Face the Fire". Two pure power metal songs of the band. The end of the show is near so we leave us with the beautiful ballad called "Fairytales Won’t Die" only played with voice and piano. The last track of this live one is the one that gives name to the band, "Ring of Fire". But they show us the same thing, a lot of speed and a lot of melody to close the show. As the CD finishes they give a new studio track to their fans called "Leviathan", which sounds infinitely better than the whole CD that we have listened previously.


In my opinion there is two different things to criticize of this CD. The sound unfortunately very poor on quality. Being a very well known Melodic Metal band they should sound more compact and mainly more powerful than what this CD show to us. On the other hand it’s strange to see how musicians so famous and professionals as those make appreciable mistakes during the whole CD. They give the impression of not to be very centered in the music that they play. Individually they are exceptional musicians but they should work like a band and try to be a bit more homogeneous.

author - date - rating - label

Germán Villén - November 2003 -   - Frontiers