Metal Mayhem 9/10 Review by Chris
Rick Renstrom is supposedly one of the guitar-world's newest hope for a new hero. Beginning at the age of 15, Rick has so far won the "Best Lead Guitarist" at the CFMA awards, M.A.R.S Challenge and has won the "Best Metal Guitarist" at the Orlando Metal Awards. What is my opinion I hear you asking? well.....
This is his debut album, half vocal, half instrumental featuring the likes of Rob Rock (Warrior/Rob Rock), Mat Sinner (Primal Fear/Sinner) & Wade Black (Seven Witches/Crimson Glory), Rick himself on Guitar, Stephen Elder, Brian Glodde & Mat Sinner on Bass, Ferdy Doernberg and Mistheria on Keyboards and Richard Christy (ex-Death/Iced Earth) on Drums, the outcome is truly exceptional.
I can't recall ever hearing Power Metal like this never mind the amazing guitar work, this has to be some of the most melodic and soulful sounding work ever recorded, all the music was written by Rick himself. The riffs are huge, the melodies are huge, everything is just totally blown out of proportion. What I can't believe is it's taken this long for label interest. I bet he had a huge smile on his face after hearing the final outcome, I MUST interview this guy!
BW&BK 7.5/10 Review by Mark Gromen
As a guitarist's solo record, this isn't a
fully instrumental disc, although six of the 11 tracks are without vocals. Those
with a singer feature names like Rob Rock (with whom Renstrom first came to
attention), Wade Black (ex-Seven
Witches/ex-Crimson Glory/Tiwanaku) and Mat Sinner, who also plays some bass(Sinner/Primal Fear).
In fact, the entire platter is a guest star
affair, including appearances by Richard Christy (drums, Iced Earth/Death),
Ferdy Doernberg and the cryptically named Mistheria. For many listeners,
over-the-top guitar histrionics are frowned upon, but Renstrom has ulterior
motives. Unlike the rest of the guitar albums on the market, he's trying to
prove a point. Despite
being born with "physical limitations" (an oxymoron if ever there was one, as Renstrom deftly turns the tables on all us supposedly "able bodied" individuals, as I will NEVER possess such musical skills, even practicing every day for
the rest of my life), he's out to show he can cut it as an axe slinger in a metal band. He handles not only the scorching pace of the voiceless tunes, but also slower, acoustic passages on 'Opus Lix'.
'Calling On Vengeance' demonstrates an
appreciation for metallic roots, sort of a Dio era Rainbow style, with a
different vibe. Speaking of old school, 'Kingdom For Ransom' is a traditional metal number that could have appeared on a Metal Blade or Shrapnel sampler, in the 80s. As a real throwback, Renstrom reworks Mozart's 'Symphony #40', while
the lyrics to 'Victim's Paradise' decry the no-fault mentality griping American society. Given his situation, Renstrom comes down hard on such cop-outs. Amazing and inspirational at the same time.
The Metal Observer-7.5/10 Review by Alex
At this year's "Bang Your Head" I found a new Heavy Metal hero: Rick Renstrom, guitarist of Rob Rock's backing band. This guy had been born with malformed arms and hands, but he plays up there with the best of them. To get that far needs an incredible amount of willpower, so my HIGHEST respect for him!
"Until The Bitter End" is Rick solo, with the support of some top notch colleagues of his, let me just run you by a few of the involved names: Richard Christy…Rob Rock…Ferdy Doernberg…Wade Black…Mistheria…Mat Sinner…sounds good? Thought so. And as you could imagine, the musicianship on this album is from the finest, so can the songs live up to it? Yes, they can. What makes "Until The Bitter End" different than your usual guitarist's solo album is the fact that it is partly instrumental and partly with vocals. Definitely more interesting than pure guitar wizardry, isn't it? Exactly.
Almost naturally the style is neoclassical Heavy Metal with classical influences as well as the foundation of the traditional Metal and no matter, if instrumental or with vocals, the songs have class. Be it the driving "Calling On Vengeance" with Mat Sinner on vocals or "Kingdom For Ransom" with a Rob Rock in top form on the one side or the Mozart (I think) styled instrumental "Symphony #40", they all have one thing in common (especially applicable to the instrumental songs), they are all songs, not just a showing off of the skills of the participating musicians.
So "Until The Bitter End" is a thoroughly enjoyable album, especially because of the mix vocal/instrumental and this album only lets my respect for Rick Renstrom grow even more!
Melodic Hard Rock Today Review by Arne
Rick himself on the guitar, we find Richard Christy on drums, Stephen Elder,
Brian Glodde and Mat Sinner
play bass, on keyboards we find Mistheria and Ferdy Doernberg. From the first track on the album Moment Of
Impact I am speechless! This is incredible guitarplaying with feeling and skills I`ve never heard before. Kingdom For
Ransom is a more straight hard rock, heavy song, with Rob Rock on vocals. In some parts of the song I thought I
could draw some parallels to early albums from Yngwie Malmsteen. Symphony # 40 is a classic pearl and with
Rick on the guitar, this symphony is given new life with stunning guitarplaying. The eleven songs are strong and half
of the album with vocal songs together with six instrumental songs makes this album be varied and interesting to listen
to. The King, Towers Of Babylon and the instrumental song Destiny`s Call is quality written and performed songs
on a very high level in the rock world today, so people out there, you have to get a dose of this, it`s incredible!
I am speechless!!
Albums of Purgatory Review by G
If I hadnt known better when I first heard this album I would have said to myself, 'wow, Yngwie got a new vocalist'. the guitar is made to go through every emotion possible on here and you forced to go along with it. There is a mixture of solo tracks and heavy metal songs on here and the balance is perfect. Solos like Moment of Impact have you shaking your head in amazement while songs like the King have you nodding your head in appreciation. Rick Renstrom is a genius of a guitarist and should be an inspiration to us all that anything is possible, you just have to want it and work for it.
RockReport 4/6 Review by CL
I don't know how many young men start playing the guitar
after having watched Yngwie Malmsteen playing, but this Rick Renstrom is surely
one of them. Besides Malmsteen, this physically handicapped guitarist is also
influenced by fellow guitarists Ritchie Blackmore, Uli Jon Roth, Al DiMeola,
Andy LaRocque and Ronni LeTekro, as well as Bach and Mozart. If his name rings a
bell, you're right, because he's currently touring with Rob Rock.
What I like about Rick's debut album "Until The Bitter End", is the fact that it is half vocal (5 tracks) and half instrumental (6 tracks). About the instrumental tracks, all I can say is that they are at least as well executed as any track of his competitors. What interests me more, are the vocal tracks, featuring Mat Sinner ("Calling On Vengeance"), Rob Rock ("Kingdom For Ransom", "Victim's Paradise" and "The King") and Wade Black ("Towers Of Babylon") and all of them are worth listening to. As a matter of fact they bring this album to a somewhat higher level, which is something other guitarist should do as well. Nice record, nothing more nothing less.
Metallian.com/Review by Ali "The Metallian"
Rick Renstrom is a new guitar-shredding, axe-wielding, note-assaulting musician who like his hero - the once-venerable Yngwie - lives in Florida. Although Until The Bitter End is his first album, Renstrom has been active in several bands in the past and is currently also playing with Rob Rock. Rock, along with others like Mat Sinner, Wade Black and Richard Christy, appears on the CD. Yes, this very much follows the pattern of a Yngwie CD. The guests come and go making cameo appearances, but the constant here is the soloing. The CD is one long solo. Renstrom can play and he is not about to hide his talents. He can play the notes and play them with incredible speed, but he somehow never loses control. The proceedings are always under control, which can be a good or a bad thing. After all, he should throw caution to the wind and just blast once in a while. He is good enough to pull it off. As things stand, Until The Bitter End is an entertaining and awe-inspiring album with a variety of material ranging from heavy metal to Classical adaptations. There is a reason Renstrom rhymes with Rainstorm after all!