ANUBIS RISING – Funerary Preamble

ANUBIS RISING
Funerary Preamble
(Uncouth Recordings)
The first sentence on the accompanying press sheet here is: “Anubis Rising is dead.” My immediate thought was ‘why should I bother with this then?’  However, I read on to discover that this label, Uncouth Industries is simply re-releasing some music that they feel is special and are unwilling to totally let go of. They are hoping to still spread the word and promote this band, despite the fact that they are no longer active in the metal scene.
Anubis Rising was formed in 1999 in Los Angeles, California. Their influences stem from bands such as Neurosis, Isis, and Amebix. While they played throughout various cities/towns in their home state, the live impact of this band never reached any further. Why Anubis Rising has thrown in the towel; no explanation is offered.
Funerary Preamble has 11 tracks altogether, although only 10 tracks are named. The first 4 songs, “Funerary Preamble,” “Firmamentum, “Rumsprigan Segue,” and “Pleasure to Burn” are from the 2004 Funerary Preamble EP, the next three songs, “Personification of Time,” “Extinguishing Fire in its Season,” and “Crook and Flail” stem from the 2002 Scales of Truth EP, then the last three songs, “Infinite Self-Perpetuation,” “Wander in the Shadow-Realm,” and “Atrocious Sorridness” stem from the 2001 Uphill Battle Split. Finally, the 11th and untitled track claims only that it was previously unreleased and originally recorded and written by Eyehategod.
The only members that seem to be consistently listed are vocalist/guitarist Sacha Dunable and drummer, Alex Bytnar.
The opening track, which is also the title track, has some dreary, sludgy and almost spacey music. The recording is raw but not crappy. Raging harsh vocals of a black metal style (but not screechy like COF or similar bands) claw to the fore adding a strange but not unappealing contrast to the slower music. Some harmonizing cleaner vocals appear in the middle with music that sounds like late 60’s/early 70’s space rock.
The next track, “Firmamentum,” boasts deeper, more guttural vocals that are half whisper-half growling on top of more despairing heavy music.
“Rumsprigan Segue” is a doomy instrumental akin to early Black Sabbath (at first anyway).
“Pleasure to Burn” starts with a drum intro followed by more heavy but spacey 70’s music and black metal vocals. Some of this music can honestly bring to mind afros and bell bottoms. I swear that although it’s weird, it’s kind of cool too. (Break out the black lights! This is extreme/doom metal you can almost relax to!)
The three songs from the Scales of Truth EP feature vocals that are rawer, more blatant black/death. While the music is still doomy and heavy, the 70’s space rock sound isn’t as prominent here (at least not until track # 7, “Crook and Flail.”) These tracks have an overall more heavy metal sound with some livelier thrash riffs.
The rest of this CD carries on in a pretty consistent fashion, including the ever-present dismal acoustic guitar passages.
A melancholy bass solo leads into “Atrocious Sorridness,” giving me that old Black Sabbath-y feeling again. It is 4 minutes into the song before the vocals even begin. Once again, mostly bm/dm style. Thrashy death metal elements make this ultimately one of the heaviest tracks on this entire CD.
Dismal is the best word to describe the music of Anubis Rising, laden with some heavy doom-filled riffs. On top of all this, there are lyrics like some dark and occasionally morbid beatnik poetry. Very interesting stuff. I can almost imagine the dark smoke-filled room of the club while the band performs their unique concoction of 70’s space rock meets extreme and doom metal.

In conclusion, I tend to agree with those at Uncouth Industries. It is actually a shame that Anubis Rising no longer exists. Although this isn’t something I could listen to often as it just isn’t my general taste, it did capture my attention in a more positive way than I expected it to. Judging by this release, Anubis Rising certainly seemed to have something all its own going on.
For more info, contact Uncouth Industries at: P.O. Box 7547 Santa Maria, CA. 93456 U.S.A. and/or http://www.uncouth-industries.com. You can also contact the band at: Thesachanator@aol.com.
(Lisa R. Rosner)

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THERION – Lemuria/Sirius B

THERION
Lemuria/Sirius B
(Nuclear Blast)
Therion, a band currently comprised of guitarists, Christofer Johnsson, Kristian Niemann and bass guitarist, Johann Niemann will never have to suffer the brand of average or uninteresting. Instead, they should earn themselves a reverent page in heavy metal history as one of the most unique and remarkable concepts to ever stem from a once fairly straight-up death metal band. With their lengthy discography and career spanning over a decade, they have uncompromisingly proven time and again that music can be surreal and aesthetic, contradictive and yet positively effective.
In all honesty, it took me some time to review this for the simple fact that, being a rather moody person, this CD has ever been a complex listening experience for me. Some days, certain vocals and their combinations really annoy me to the point of abhorrence. Other times I am more open minded and find immense enjoyment in the majority of these songs. There are certain voices/vocals I am never particularly fond of, mind you, but some days I am just more tolerant than others (call me human, I guess). For example, imagine a slightly less whiney and nasal Ozzy Osbourne singing with a beautiful choir. Kind of weird, huh?
This latest release is a double CD magnum opus. The first CD is entitled Lemuria with “Typhon” serving as the opening track. “Typhon” begins with a very enjoyable duet between  an operatic male and female joined by an equally operatic choir. Then it bursts forth with some thick death metal snarls, perhaps a revisit to the band’s early days. Some may think this a compelling combination of Therion past and present, but I just find it uncomfortably distracting. However, with more listens, this also grew on me. (Still, I would prefer to just hear the man and woman continue to perform their operatic duet.)
“The Dreams of Swedenborg” has some interesting 70’s rock music to it in parts and I can almost imagine the afros, beads and bellbottoms. If this song is indeed about Emanuel Swedenborg, (the highly revered Swedish scientist, philosopher and theologian whose works inspired devout followers known as ‘Swedenborgians’) then I’m not sure where 70’s music fits in. But maybe music from the 16 and 1700’s were not appropriate either? Just chalk it up to the enigmatic innovation of Therion.
“An Arrow from the Sun” is my favorite track from the Lemuria CD. The varying voices as well as the overall fluidity of the song strongly appeals. It has a nice and catchy melody that is neither heavy nor mellow but highly pleasant.
Unfortunately, the monotone vocals that remind me of a singing cyborg in “Feuer Overture/ Prometheus entfesselt” do not appeal. I tend to find this song a bit boring. Fortunately, lilting choirs save this song from being completely intolerable, as they do on many other tracks  on the Lemuria CD. Honesty compels me to admit that a few of these songs would not hold much appeal for me if not for the operatic choirs to back them up. Indeed, although prolific musicianship is always utilized in the music of Therion, it is the singing voices, the choirs that would make Richard Wagner beam with pride, that make this band special in my book.
Moving on, we come to the second CD, Sirius B, which kicks off with “Blood of Kings.”  Raspier and heavier metal vocals are utilized and are accompanied by the pretty sounds of a female choir. This track proves to be dramatic and fairly hard-rocking all at once.
With the dominate employ of more lilting female operatic vocals, “Son of the Sun”  is another overall favorite of mine.
“The Khlysti Evangelist” is pretty impressive with the powerfully dramatic vocals of a male opera singer that is joined in by an angelic female voice. Too bad the vocals are somewhat muffled sounding. However, this part of the song has a strongly spiritual vibe which, judging by the song title, is the clear intention. When I listen to the beginning of this song, I can easily imagine Fred Johanson, a Scandinavian musical/opera singer, lending his rich and commanding voice to a Therion track some day. I for one, would love to hear that. I would probably faint from the rapture. (Perhaps I shall suggest him to the members of Therion, should I ever have the opportunity.)
“Kali Yuga” (parts 1 & 2) is the epic of sorts on this CD. It has a few catchy parts that stand out and remain memorable to the listener. Part 1 has a doomier feel to the music whereas part 2 has more diversified twists and turns.
“Call of Dagon” is another favorite of mine with it’s enchanting music and vocals.
Between the Lemuria and Sirius B CD’s there are 21 songs spanning close to two full hours of music. Whether or not this double CD release will meet your great expectations depends on which era of Therion you’re most familiar with and fond of. (I personally love the Deggial CD, so naturally, I am enamored by the operatic choirs, etc.) However, I think there should be something to be found on here for all Therion fans.
In conclusion, I enjoyed the Sirius B CD over Lemuria overall. I suppose I am outnumbered in this belief, but I am firm in that operatic vocals and extreme death/black vocals should not often mix. It is too severe a contradiction for me. Perhaps many bands do this in order to create a heaven-hell paradox, but few manage to actually accomplish this with any success. Therion comes as close as anyone, which goes back to what I said earlier about the band being contradictive yet positively effective. (The band Tristania is another decent example of this.)

Therion knows how to bring a wild mesh of styles, including beautiful choral passages, dramatic orchestration, heavy metal, and even some classic rock and goth-metal elements together in a strangely harmonious way. All in all, this is a very good release.
Therion will be touring in the late summer/early fall. I cannot imagine a live Therion performance being anything less than a grand production. I look forward to hopefully finding out. Check out the Nuclear Blast Records website for more information/tour dates at http://www.nuclearblastusa.com. Also check out the band’s website at: http://www.megatherion.com.
(Lisa R. Rosner)

SONATA ARCTICA – Reckoning Night

SONATA ARCTICA
Reckoning Night
(Nuclear Blast)
Well, this release came out just in time to make it on my “Top 5 Favorite CD’s of 2004” list. Sonata Arctica is another powerfully dynamic band that has me completely and helplessly enraptured. (So much talent comes out of Finland; it just never ceases to amaze me.)
First off, the cover of this CD has some spectacular artwork of a ship on a tumultuous sea with waves rising up and forming in the shape of wolves. Along with various other pieces of art that give hints to each song, this alone, should give some indication as to what imaginative minds and creative forces comprise Sonata Arctica.
How should I describe this band to someone who has never heard them and inspire one to buy their CD’s? To try is very taxing on my brain and it is bands like Sonata Arctica that provide a challenge for any aspiring writer. Indeed, the depth and talent this band possesses is almost arcane.
If you like the bombastic overtures, passionate melodies and vocal drama of bands like Stratovarius, Rhapsody and Nightwish along with the keyboard wizardry found there (as well as  with Dream Theater), then there is simply no way you can discard Sonata Arctica.. On top of all that are imagination inspiring lyrics that border on sheer intrigue. This band covers all bases with their music/songs and never forsakes quality for quantity. You get it all. So, be sure to read the lyrics when you purchase this CD (or any other Sonata Arctica CD for that matter), otherwise you’ll only be getting half of what this amazing band has to offer.
Although I enjoyed Reckoning Night from the start, this CD did not initially strike me quite as profoundly as their previous release (Winterheart’s Guild) did. However, repeated listens encouraged me to ultimately like it even better. This is a CD that definitely visits my stereo often.
Tony Kakko, although a trifle nasal at times, is truly an impressive vocalist whose emotional tones make each song a stirring experience for the listener.
The opening song, “Displaced” is quite heavy in parts, but with a few interesting breaks and tempo changes that display grand innovation and ability in musicianship.
The third track, “Ain’t Your Fairy Tale” is strong and solid and catchy enough to linger in your head long after hearing it.
“Reckoning Day, Reckoning Night” is an instrumental that proves to be haunting and melancholic, yet rather pretty and enchanting at once. It has a numinous feel that intrigues one’s mind enough that no lyrics really are required. It makes you wish for an explanation that surely lurks behind it and yet not want it at the same time.  That is the enigmatic power that this band is so masterfully capable of and what sets them apart from so many other power/prog metal bands out there.
Following this, is my absolute favorite track of all, “Don’t Say a Word.” I LOVE THIS SONG! I can not play this enough. This one is heavier and more forceful than some of the others and certainly possessing a more sinister vibe lyrically. The chorus has a certain drama that reminds me of those you would hear from Blind Guardian on their Night at the Opera CD. It is very strong and very memorable and effective. It would be a shame if they did not include this song in their live set list.
I can not stress enough what a gifted lyricist Mr. Kakko is and the way he flawlessly weaves magical tales that pique the imagination. This skill is especially notable in “The Boy Who Wanted to be a Real Puppet” (-about a deadly obsession with a puppet with a golden heart) and the epic 8+ minute “White Pearl, Black Oceans…” (-an interesting and tragic account of a conspiracy against a lonely light house keeper). This man really should consider writing novels someday.
“My Selene” is riveting with its mystical romanticism. A song that is quite pleasing to the ear.
Beginning with some charismatic speaking, “Wildfire” is the heaviest song on this CD. This track features rougher edged vocals that expertly display the anger and madness of the character from which this story of frustration and vengeance is told. The brief vocal medley toward the middle of this song makes me think of something akin to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and is very appealing.
The cleverly titled “Shamandalie” is a slower and heartfelt song of love and regret and a strong emotional note to end on (just as “Draw Me” was on the previously released Winterheart’s Guild). This band has a definite knack for appropriate song placements.
Keep listening and you are treated to a unique little ditty that serves as a bonus track of sorts (not to be confused with one of those annoying hidden tracks). Basically, it sounds as if the band was having a good time with the snare drums, acoustic guitar and possibly even a tambourine and some maracas in the rehearsal studio.
While genuinely heavy hitting yet always melodious, the compelling variations that compose each song have made Sonata Arctica among my favorite bands and I find it very easy to become enveloped.
This is a band much deserving of international success. Take a listen to them for yourself. I simply can not fathom anyone feeling disappointed once doing so.
(Lisa R. Rosner)

KATAGORY 5 – A New Breed of Rebellion

KATAGORY 5
A New Breed of Rebellion
(MetalAges)
Katagory 5 hails from Utah and I don’t know if that automatically makes them Mormons or not, but one thing is for sure: this is obviously a bunch of serious musicians.
Their CD is entitled A New Breed of Rebellion and comes complete with CD inlay/booklet with lyrics, band photos and credits. I had never heard of MetalAges Records before, but it’s evident that they take care in ensuring quality packaging for the bands on their label. It made me eager to see if the quality of the band’s music/sound production measured up as well. I was not to be disappointed in those regards.
Upon pressing the ‘Play’ button on my stereo; I was met with dramatic music that is almost suspenseful and exciting. I really liked it and started feeling inspired to dream up some fantasy type story to go along with it. No denying that this band is very musically talented and fast guitar riffing carries the listener further into the first track, entitled “Sands of Time.”
Lynn Allers compliments his band mates’ musicianship with his excellent vocal range -a very smooth voice without being shrill.
In retrospect, the first track is my favorite, but there are other appealing songs as well. The second track however, was not particularly one of them for me. “Turn to Grey” is by no means lacking in the above mentioned quality musicianship and vocals, it just struck me as a bit too monotonous. I tend to have a short attention span as it is, unfortunately.
Song # 4, which is also the title track, is almost 7& ½ minutes long, which is challenging for someone like me to withstand unless there are a lot of things going on in the song to hold my interest. There are not enough changes in this to justify its length; however, it is not a bad song by any means. It is a slower number with very pretty Spanish sounding acoustic guitar in parts. It does pick up the pace a little over time, yet still remains ballad-ish throughout.
Track # 6 tends to be deceptive to the listener, leading one to believe the track will be exceptionally heavy with more rapid guitar riffing and fast paced drumming. Alas, it turns out to be pretty mellow, in fact, one of the mellower tunes on the entire CD. I am not against slower/mellower tunes, but, like recent Fates Warning, Katagory 5 just has too many songs in the same vein and it tends to get a trifle redundant for me. I don’t dislike it, but nonetheless, ‘variety is the spice of life’ (or so the saying goes).
A New Breed of Rebellion is a good CD overall. There are slightly heavier moments to be had now and again and each song is definitely graced with impressive guitar work and harmonizing vocals in addition to well thought out lyrics. Katagory 5 strikes me as a very solid unit. However, I just think they should kick it up a notch or two. Add some more power to the prog. They are obviously a talented and capable band, but this CD carries a pretty steady mid-tempo pace and some variety/tempo shifts would benefit them greatly. Of course, all of this is only my opinion, and certainly, if this is the style they feel in their hearts, then that is what is important.
Besides Allers, other members include Curtis Morrell and Trevor Asire on guitars, Dustin Mitchell on bass guitar and Matt Sutter on drums. I am uninformed of this band’s history, but they do have an impressively veteran sound to their music.
No precise comparisons for this band come to mind, however fans of Watchtower, all eras of Fates Warning, Heir Apparent (minus the keyboards) and Queensryche may want to take note.  While not exact replicas, elements of the above mentioned bands can be heard. Although no bio/letter or press sheet was sent along with this CD, I think it is safe to assume that the classic prog/power bands are strong influences. I would be surprised to learn otherwise.
Although a bit placid for my taste overall, Katagory 5 has that traditional sound which remains timeless and golden. I would be interested in hearing more of what this band has to offer in the future.
Check them out at http://www.katagory5.com.
(Lisa R. Rosner)

JAG PANZER – Casting the Stones

JAG PANZER
Casting the Stones
(Century Media)
The more I hear from Jag Panzer, the more I learn to appreciate them. While some metal bands become like curdled milk, Jag Panzer is like a rare fine wine and continues to improve with age and time.
This is a band that keeps the same formula, yet manages to expand and perfect their sound even more with each release. It takes amazing talent to change, yet stay the same all the while. Jag Panzer is one of the few bands that, not only knows the secret, but has it mastered.
Being, in a sense, veterans themselves, Jag Panzer maintains a classic metal vibe in the vein of such giants as Ronnie James Dio and Judas Priest. On top of that however, the band still knows how to brand the sound with their own unique signature.
The distinguishable vocals of Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin sound stronger and more conditioned with each release as well. His vocals are an intriguing blend of smooth and rough, making him a true gem in the heavy metal vocalist treasure box.
The band’s latest release, Casting the Stones only makes me look forward to the future where this band is concerned.
Following the opening (and rather Dio-ish sounding) track “Feast or Famine” is one of my overall favorites, “The Mission (1941).” This song is based on the novel The Guns of Navarone by Alistair MacLean, which was ultimately made into a motion picture in the early 60’s, starring Gregory Peck. It depicts the tale of a crack team of espionage agents on a ‘mission’ to go against the Nazi’s and destroy large Axis guns on a Greek island during World War 2. This song has some excellent harmonizing background vocals which add a dramatic feel to compliment the story. There are also some excellent and even exciting guitar structures, courtesy of Chris Broderick and Mark Briody.
The songs “Achilles” and “Tempest” also demonstrate exceptional guitar work as well as powerful drumming on behalf of Rikard Stjernquist and bass playing on behalf of John Tetley. All band members display genuine and undeniable passion within the music they create. Such passion is audible in  every song on this album.
A harmonizing and enchanting, if not even slightly ‘haunting’ blend of music and voices come together to make “Legion Immortal” my ultimate favorite track on this CD.
Fast and frenetic rhythm guitar riffing starts off “Battered and Bruised,” which is one of the more powerful tracks, just as the title suggests.
Yet more impressive guitar work, harmonizing vocals and overall song structures are found in “The Harkening,” which also ranks high on my list of favorites.
The final track, “Precipice,” is slow and dramatic sounding at first. It does pick up the pace, yet remains a bit slower than the rest (although there are no actual ballads to be had here). This soulful tune is exceptional in show casing Conklin’s notable vocal abilities.
Although Jag Panzer has established a respectable following and name for themselves, they still, for the most part, rank among the unsung heroes of metal. In truth, they should be ranking among the higher officials. The band is sturdy and dedicated.  Such attributes are sure to be rewarded in time. They are, after all, that hard to find fine wine.
If you have never heard Jag Panzer, crawl out of your cave and buy Casting the Stones. It is one of their best releases yet.
http://www.jagpanzer.com
(Lisa R. Rosner)

FROST – Raise your Fist to Metal

FROST
Raise your Fist to Metal
(Noise)
Many of you probably recognize the name of Jack Frost as, not only an imaginary character of winter time, but also as a heavy metal icon. He is the main man in Seven Witches and also had a brief tenure with Savatage during the time of their Poets and Madmen release.
Recently, he has put out a solo effort of sorts, in which he simply titled “Frost”. This CD features quite a few guest vocalists and musicians who are rather well known in the metal scene as well. Harry Hess (formerly of Harem Scarem), Rob Rock (formerly of Warrior, Impellitteri and Axel Rudi Pell), Bobby Lucas (Overlord and formerly of Seven Witches), Joe Comeau (formerly of Annihilator and Overkill) and Steve Braun (Azlan) contribute on vocals, Joey Vera (Seven Witches, Armored Saint and Fates Warning), Mike Duda (W.A.S.P.), Mike LePond (Symphony X) and Billy Childs (Britny Fox), contribute bass guitar, Gonzo Sandoval (Armored Saint/Life after Death) and Johnny Dee (Doro/ Britny Fox/ Waysted) contribute on drums. Jack Emrick of Life after Death has a hand on this as well, though I am unhappy to admit that I am unsure of who he is or what his function is. His information is the only one I am lacking for some reason and I am honestly not familiar with the band Life after Death. (Sorry, man.)
Harry Hess sets this release into gear with the vocal lead in the opening track, “Stay.”  To me this is a so-so song. In other words, it isn’t bad, but it doesn’t strike me profoundly either. I could take it or leave it basically. It is more in the vein of heavy rock-n-roll than metal (which is fine, of course). Hess’ vocals sound a bit strained from time to time and there is also a little (sort of) rapping part in this song that I could do without. Thankfully, it is quite short and not enough to deter one’s potential enjoyment of the song. This song does provide a very good showcase for Frost’s guitar work however.
Joe Comeau takes on the vocal duties for the second track, “The Chase.”  A splendid and rousing display of drum work kicks this off, but whether this is courtesy of Mr. Sandoval or Mr. Dee, I do not know. This track is heavier than the previous one, but mellower than most of Comeau’s work with his former bands. (At least judging by the songs I have heard of Overkill and Annihilator.)
The third track, “Brotherhood of Lies” is my personal favorite and features Bobby Lucas on vocals. Very soon into the song, the listener is treated to a very impressive “Queen of the Ryche” type metal scream. Lucas can certainly hit those high octaves. Nonetheless, he tends to sound a little more comparable to Ronnie James Dio than Geoff Tate overall. His vocal ability is outshining and this is also a heavier and more power metal oriented track.
Following is “What’s Left” featuring Steve Braun on vocals. I must confess that I have never heard of Braun’s band Azlan, but hey, isn’t that the name of the lion in the Narnia Chronicles (The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe)? Braun’s vocals are smooth and in the mellower power metal vein. I found this track to be one of the more enjoyable ones as well and perhaps I will look into Azlan in the near future.
Mr. Frost himself treats us to a taste of his vocal competence in the following track, “The Man I Am.” His singing voice here is surprisingly smoother than his usual husky/raspy tone. This is a slower paced number, yet not a ballad (although, bordering on acoustic as is, it could easily be performed ‘unplugged,’ I think). This is a pleasant song to just kick back and listen to.
Don’t get too relaxed though, Jack Frost is definitely “Nippin’ at Your Ear” with a remarkable electric guitar solo on this creatively well named composition. Guitar enthusiasts should appreciate this short, but sweet track.

On top of all of that and two other hard rocking songs (“What I Say” and “Slow Burn,” the latter being another heavier metal track featuring excellent guitar riffing and the strong vocals of Rob Rock), there are two cover tunes on here also. The first being a cover of Kansas’ “Fight Fire with Fire”  This isn’t surprising considering Kansas is one of Frost’s favorite bands and among his main influences. This is a decent rendition with some really cool drumming towards the end; however it doesn’t manage to usurp the original. This was always one of my favorite songs by Kansas as well, so I am pleased to see it was the one that Frost chose to cover.
The next cover tune is Ratt’s “Lack of Communication.” Although I was never a huge fan of Ratt’s music, there were a few songs by them that I really liked and “Lack of Communication” was one of them. The chorus is kind of flatly yelled instead of sung, but the cover is a tolerable one (still not as good as the original, but covers rarely are).
Unless you are somewhere in the general age bracketing of 13-20 something and have no knowledge of 80’s music, then there is really no excuse for not liking at least some of the tracks that this release has to offer. It may not be as consistently ‘metal’ as the title suggests, but it surely does make for a nice fix of 80’s sounding metal and hard rock.
For more info, check out http://www.noiserecords.com/frost.
(Lisa R. Rosner)

DREAM EVIL – The Book of Heavy Metal

DREAM EVIL
The Book of Heavy Metal
(Century Media)
Like Hammerfall and Manowar in consistency, Dream Evil is a talented fantasy based/metal anthem band that just keeps cranking them out.
This CD kicks off with the title track (more or less, since the song is actually called “The Book of Heavy Metal; March of the Metallians”). This opens up with vocalist, Niklas Isfeldt screaming “METAL!!!” I thought Primal Fear’s Ralf Scheeper’s screaming “METAL IS FOREVER!” was hair-raisingly shrill -this is even worse! But the song is actually pretty cool past that part.
There are more shrill vocals later in the song, sounding like he pinched himself severely in his zipper, if you catch my drift. Then there is the part where my sister thinks he sounds like Golem from the Lord of the Rings films… The man has a good strong voice for sure. He can sing. But the high octaves he hits in this song are almost enough to make dogs howl in pain…and me too.
The lyrics are pretty corny, but the opening track definitely sets a fun mood. It’s one of those power metal anthems that we all laugh at, but secretly enjoy (or not so secretly).
The band can be more serious and dramatic however, as demonstrated in “Into the Moonlight,” “Crusader’s Anthem,” and “Tired,” the latter being a semi-slower number with lyrics insinuating a desperate plea for companionship.
The song “No Way” is the only one I will say I didn’t really like. The vocals were more nasal sounding and I just found this particular one annoying. I didn’t hate it, but I could certainly live without it.
“Let’s Make Rock” is fairly self explanatory as far as lyrical content is concerned and Isfeldt‘s vocals take on a rougher edge, sounding quite similar to Sammy Hagar. Most of the time however, Dream Evil reminds me much of a combination of Hammerfall, Europe, Dokken and the Scorpions. They are a band that seems to border between ‘power’ metal and hard rock.
“Chosen Twice” particularly makes me think of the band Europe until it reaches the chorus. Harmonizing and choir-ish vocals make the chorus a pleasantly surprising treat, complimented further by slightly ‘medieval’ sounding music in the middle. This is definitely my favorite track on this CD.
I couldn’t help but laugh when I discovered what “M.O.M” (track #9) stood for. I won’t say what it is. You’ll have to buy the album and find out for yourself. Let’s just say, it isn’t “Made of Metal” like the song on their previous release suggests. There is some especially catchy riffing in this song however and it is all quite likely to stick in your head.
Rounding it all up is “Unbreakable Chain,” a rather heartfelt power ballad and a touching note to end on.
The thing I like best about Dream Evil is the way you can find yourself singing along to the songs by the very second time you listen to their CD’s. They are clear and very memorable. You will doubtless find yourself humming or singing them several times throughout the day. I can imagine their audience throwing their fists into the air as they shout along to the choruses at a Dream Evil show. I also imagine such a show would be a genuinely good time. -Not unlike Manowar, but not exactly like them either. If you’re a fan of silly but cool metal anthems, Dream Evil has them en masse, but they also have more to offer than that. If you’re not a metal anthem fan, take my advice: save yourself the aggravation of picking the lyrics apart and just take them with a grain of salt. Enjoy the songs as they are and you’ll find that this is a genuinely capable band who knows how to let loose and have fun, playing music they love all the while.
If you like this one, then you might as well check out the band’s previous releases Dragon Slayer and Evilized. While each release is a bit heavier than the last, Dream Evil retains a comfortable consistency that should keep the majority of their fans loyal.
Along with the finished product, there is a bonus DVD, which features an hour of ‘footage.’ On my promo copy however, I only have the bonus video for the title track, and what an interesting visual it is! I don’t know what’s up with the band’s new look. It’s very odd. The drummer in particular is rather freaky and looks like he should be in Gwar or something. (Yes, I am talking about legendary King Diamond/Mercyful Fate drummer Snowy Shaw.) Besides Isfeldt and Shaw, the other ‘metallic metallers’ of Dream Evil include Peter Stalfors on bass, Gus G. and acclaimed Swedish producer Fredrik Nordstrom on guitars.
Especially after viewing this video, it is hard to say how seriously the members of this band take themselves, but their talent is serious enough even if their look isn’t.
Dream Evil may not truly be the authors of ‘The Book of Heavy Metal’ per se, but this release does make a fine chapter.
As Golem might say: “YES! READ IT!” (My Precious)
http://www.dreamevil.se
(Lisa R. Rosner)