Review Summary: An excellent follow up to their breakthrough album, sounding as tight and as confident as ever. The songs rock harder and are more memorable than on the past couple of albums.
One needs only to look at the cover of this album to flatten any doubts of this not being a heavy metal album. Looking at the cover of this album, one may be fooled into thinking that this is a full on parody of Judas Priests 'British Steel' album from 1980, and in some aspects it is, afterall; it does feature a big hand on it, in 1980 it was holding steel razor blade, in 2006 it's holding metal chains in fire. Metal. The album title also *ahem* 'borrowed' from the iconic song of the same name from the 'British Steel' album. Although the cover may seem as a cheesy rip off of a classic album, listening to this album you can see it as more of the bands mission statement in regards to the material on this album. United features 11 (17 if you count the songs on the bonus disc, and the cover song) solid and anthemic heavy metal songs crafted in the same fashion that bands such as Judas Priest, Scorpions and Iron Maiden were doing in the 1980's. The songs all feature, headbanging, fist pumping riffs, widdley guitar solo's and big choruses that were made to be sung live.
After Dream Evil more or less broke into a larger metal audience with their highly praised (some may say highly overrated), over the top album 'The Book Of Heavy Metal' in 2004, the band ran into some trouble. Dream Evil were on the brink of disbanding; vocalists Niklas Isfeldt and bass player Peter Stalfors left the band, only to return shortly after leaving. After Niklas and Peter returned, drummer Snowy Shaw left the band due to creative differences and lead guitarist Gus G left to focus on his main project Firewind (check them out if you like Dream Evil). Drummer Pat Powers and lead guitarist Marc Black, both of whom had worked as technicians on the bands previous albums, were recruited to fill the gaps.
Despite its mainstream popularity (due in no small part to its ridiculous title track), this little black duck found the last album 'The Book Of Heavy Metal' to be a completely uninspired disc with very little good material and a let down in comparison to the bands previous work. Two years and two new members later Dream Evil have struck gold with 'United' sounding as powerful and as inspired as ever. United is probably the bands most consistent effort to date with almost no filler and something memorable about every song on the album.
'Fire! Battle! In Metal!' fades in with a melody and some light guitar chugging before it blasts out of the speakers with heavy metal fury. This songs features some of the bands strongest riffs to date. The riffs in the verse are reminiscent of Dio's 'Holy Diver' but a lot faster and heavier. This is an adrenaline pumping song with one of the best choruses in the bands career. The band of course have not dropped any of the cheese from previous albums, but this time instead of sounding like they are playing to some drunks in a bar, they sound like they are playing to thousands of drunks in a massive stadium! New guitarist Marc Black has a short but sweet solo in this song where he shows his technical skill as a fast shredder, while he may not have as much personality at this stage as Gus G, he is definately technically competent enough to match Gus's shredding. 'United' is a much slower song but has a heavy fist-pumping rhythm, the chorus of this song is simple but incredibly infectious, theres no doubt that this one will get stuck in your head. Pat Powers takes this opportunity to show off his skills with some impressive drum rolls here and there.
The Judas Priest influence is on full show in the third track 'Blind Evil', another slightly faster song. Niklas's vocals during the verse are very similar to that of Rob Halford's in the verse of Electric Eye from Screaming For Vengeance. The riffs are also very Priest-ish. The chorus for this song is 'happy' and uplifting if maybe a little campy, but damn is it ever addictive. Marc black gets another cool solo in this song which is pretty impressive. Again the pace is slowed down a little bit for the next song Evilution. Niklas gives a very charismatic performance on this song, he sounds great especially with his opening scream of "YEAH!" at the start of the song. The song flows with a stop-start pattern in the verses, a nice pre-chorus and once again a big chorus. Admittedly the chorus of this song is not as big as previous songs however the mid section makes up for this by having Nik scream "HAIL SATAN! HAIL ME!" with some crowd chants involved which is followed by a blistering guitar solo.
While not every song on this album kicks as much arse as the first four, there are no really bad song's on the album, and every song has enough tongue-in-cheek humor to be fun but not overly ridiculous. 'Let Me Out', and 'Kingdom At War' are probably two songs on this album that you don't really need to hear but they are entertaining regardless. If you have heard the song 'The Prophecy' from the band's debut 'Dragonslayer' then you have already heard the song 'Falling', it is more or less an exact replica of the former.
The ballad on the album 'Love is Blind' is pretty typical for this band but I have to say its the best ballad type song they have done (not including 'Chosen Ones') with some heavy Black Sabbath type riffs and a nice guitar solo.
The album picks up again with my personal favourite song 'Back From the Dead', a mainly mid paced song with an unforgettable chorus and my favourite vocal performance from Niklas ever, just listen to those falsetto screams as the song fades out. The last original song on the album is Doomlord, which is a pretty good song but nothing too special. The last song 'My Number One' is a cover of a pop song, and while the dance beat does lend itself to some groovy chugging, the chorus is just a little too campy, even for Dream Evil.
If you got your hands on the special edition of this disc, it comes with a second disc with 5 B-Sides which includes some of the best material. 'I Will Never' and 'Vengeance' are pretty good, the former has a pretty great chorus, but otherwise they are nothing to write home about. 'Calling Your Name' and 'Into the Unknown' are fast paced anthems with good riffs and excellent choruses, 'Dynamite' is a slow heavy song with some Black Sabbath doom style riffs and a venomous chorus.
So if you are a Dream Evil fan you can expect some more of the same 80's style heavy metal with a hint of power metal, just as much cheese but played with more confidence and far harder rocking songs than on the last album. United is definately a highlight in the bands career and I will go as far to say that I almost enjoy this album as much as their fantastic debut. The new members prove that they are great additions to the lineup. I very much look forward to seeing most of these songs played live some day, this album was made to be played live and is a very entertaining light hearted metal album.