Dragonland
Under the Grey Banner


2.0
poor

Review

by Cultclassical USER (53 Reviews)
August 18th, 2012 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No seriously, why didn't they just take the huge eagle all the way to Mt. Doom?

It’s called symphonic epic power-metal. The very name of the genre itself is extravagant and ostentatious and Dragonland, along with acts like Rhapsody of Fire and Dragonforce is regarded as a leader in this niche for good reason. Their 2006 offering “Astronomy” was as close to a classic as one can find in power-metal. It’s rich, layered orchestral sections joined forces with excellent, diverse riffs topped off with the trademark heavy dose of cheese all wrapped up in a nice well produced package made for an extremely refreshing listen compared to what is normally offered. Five years later and Dragonland has forgotten something extremely important, musical deliverance comes first and storytelling comes second.

“Under the Grey Banner” is more than just a step in the wrong direction, it’s a band stepping off of their own path and jumping right on the beaten trail with everyone else. Part of what made “Astronomy” so great is that Dragonland created something different. There was no constant barrage of the double peddling of the bass drum in the background, no constant muted chugging with some (or none) minor licks to add some flavor while the vocalist crooned about the dragon that got away, yet that’s exactly what they deliver in this go around. One listen to the song “The Trials of Mount Farnor” will illustrate near 80 percent of the CD. That is not to say the whole CD is 5 minute chunks of this formula, nay there are some very interesting bits and pieces in the interludes and breaks in these songs but in the back of your mind you know what’s going to happen in 20-30 seconds. These breaks are few and far between and waiting for them isn’t worth the drone of muted chugging that comes before and after. Another example of false hope is the intros. Many of them showcase the potential of the orchestration for some soaring epics, especially “The Black Mare” and “Fire and Brimstone” but this feeling is soon dashed as the songs kicks into gear.

The execution of the music, however, is spot on, it’s more than obvious the members of the band are extremely good at their instruments and the orchestral sections, while underutilized considering how well they were in “Astronomy”, are top notch. The vocalist was never exactly a shining example of what to strive to be but he has always been more than competent in his duties. Yet he, like the musicians backing him, fall into a bland, formulaic pattern some singing, high vibrato, some more singing, some more high vibrato all while never really showing much range. The lyrics…..the lyrics are cheesy of course, dragons, sons of dragons, as well as travelling long distances through mountains are all here but personally, I’ve never minded some cheese with my meal and I don’t mind it here. Dragonland is supposed to be telling an epic yarn filled with fighting, betrayal and other fantasy centric elements and it does just that.

As mentioned earlier, this focus on storytelling is the crux of the problem this record has. Storytelling records and concept records are two different beasts, concept records are more subtle while storytelling is a lot more direct and obvious which can lead to a problem in balancing the music and storytelling. The problem with “Under the Grey Banner” is Dragonland was entirely too focused on storytelling and put writing interesting (or good) music on the back burner. The time between records might have alleviated this problem and Dragonland could have written something on par with “Astronomy”, one can never know but this record is the epitome of bland. If, however, you’re in the mood for some power-metal in the style of almost every other power-metal band out there, you can’t go wrong with this.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
johnnydeking29
August 18th 2012


9562 Comments


Ahahaha there's a band called Dragonland
pos

Digging: Blueneck - King Nine

Calc
August 18th 2012


12374 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah I was very disappointed...my first negative review though so please give some feedback

The Black Mare- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqTEYYV2rN8

Fire and Brimstone- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jOn2CRDVw0

Calc
August 18th 2012


12374 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

thanks johnny lol

NoMeansYes
August 18th 2012


1012 Comments


its so shameful that I liked the album Holy War from these guys. For a 2 review this makes me want to actually listen to this

NoMeansYes
August 18th 2012


1012 Comments


that last paragraph:

This focus on storytelling is the crux is the main problem


doesn't make sense, just get rid of the is the crux bit

KILL
August 18th 2012


72280 Comments


i think johnny (420yea66fuck666) digs this band


Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

NoMeansYes
August 18th 2012


1012 Comments


lol

Calc
August 18th 2012


12374 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"This focus on storytelling is the crux is the main problem"

thanks I think i changed this sentence and didn't catch this i'll edit it now

Calc
August 18th 2012


12374 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

done, i rarely get a chance to use the word crux I had to keep it lol

Calc
August 19th 2012


12374 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i wish the person who negged would've told me why.....trying to learn some shyt about myself over here..

NoMeansYes
August 20th 2012


1012 Comments


spotted another error:

he has always more than competent in his duties


has always been more than competent
or
he has is always more than competent

first one makes more sense based on the tense of the preceding sentence. (I'm not the neg btw)

ikarus
August 20th 2012


570 Comments


This was such a letdown after Astronomy,

You summed it up well, a terrible album.

Calc
August 20th 2012


12374 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

@Nomeansyes

The way I write these has gotta change lol I read it once through after I write them, cut, copy and paste things that sound weird and i end up doing dumb crap like that, thanks

pedro70512
November 20th 2012


3654 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

better than a 2.0, though the interludes do get a bit tiresome. The Black Mare kicks all sorts of ass.

Digging: Taravana - A Visible Chill

BloodandRainbows
November 20th 2012


221 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I fail to hear the "muted chugging" you talk about -- most of the guitar leads are cleanly tremolo-picked with very fast harmonic sequencing. Also, the comment about the singer's range makes me wonder how much of the album you listened closely to (the last three tracks showcase two different styles across three octaves). This is definitely more story-oriented, being part of the Dragonland saga, but that's not a reason to throw them in the reject bin with Dragonforce. Won't neg since you at least put some thought into it though.

MichaelSnoxall
November 20th 2012


12163 Comments


No seriously, why didn't they just take the huge eagle all the way to Mt. Doom?


Read the books

FrozenVain
December 19th 2012


2483 Comments


^Idd

Toondude10
June 4th 2013


4448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

XD man that summary is hilarious. Good review!

Digging: Thrice - The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II

standundefeated
September 14th 2013


91 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nowhere near a 2.0.... jesus. GREAT album.

Keyblade
September 14th 2013


15442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The baritone narrator-esque singer dude on Fire and Brimstone hits right in the cheesebone

Digging: Sofia Gubaidulina - Chamber Music With Double Bass



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