Review Summary: The Chronicles of Dragonland, the Power Metal band, Part II: It's Like Jam on Toast
It really is interesting to find people writing stories in music, especially in metal music. Power metal for some reason seems to have made itself to be a stereotype. Complex guitar solos, fast drum beats and double bass, opera style vocals, very cheesy lyrics…yeah. Let’s face it, that’s about 90% of all power metal bands and Dragonland is pretty much an epitome of that. Even so, Dragonland’s debut album The Battle of the Ivory Plains
was a rather solid one. It’s still what you’d expect from a power metal album, but for what it was, it was a fun experience all the same. Now there’s their second album and the continuation of their story Holy War
. To be fair, it’s not really the so-called “sophomore slump” that many music critics use to portray that the second album isn’t as good as the first. If anything Holy War
is almost exactly the same as the first album. Nothing has really changed compared to their debut aside from a few improvements but in all seriousness, it’s still pretty damn good.
Much like the first album, much of the instrumentation is spot on. Fast-paced guitar strumming, complex solos, excellent drumming, it’s what Dragonland is good at. You can’t really deny that it’s a fun experience despite how predictable it is. There are few changes from The Battle of the Ivory Plains
, but those that are present improve the finer aspects of Dragonland's sound. First off, the vocals are better than they were last time. Jonas Heidgert sounds as if he’s getting more comfortable with the overall music as he doesn’t strain much, and his falsetto is less common. The orchestra is more prominent than before, with the intro and outro tracks featuring the orchestra exclusively, Hundred Years Have Passed
and One With All
that are simply nothing but orchestration. Many of the songs like Majesty of the Mithril Mountains
and the title track contain intro backed up with organ synths that are mixed in rather quite well. Additionally, Dragonland shows a little variety and slows down with Forever Walking Alone
. It's a nice change of pace from their debut, which consisted of speed from beginning to end. The two instrumentals also show signs of slowing down but Forever Walking Alone
is probably the first time that Dragonland takes the initiative and decides that slow instrumentals aren’t really enough.
As for the things that haven’t changed, I’ve stated them before. The changes on Holy War
are minor the most part, and don't have an enormous impact on Dragonland's sound. It’s a predictable fair and it’s everything you’d expect from a band called “Dragonland.” The lyrics are still cheesy as to the style of fantasy fiction writing and the story that the band has created, the guitars and the drums are fast-paced as usual, and the vocal style is still the same, even if it has improved. However, Holy War
isn’t a bad album. It’s just that it’s not going to win Dragonland any more fans than it already has. Pre-established Dragonland fans will be the prime customer for Holy War, but if you're seeking to hear the band for the first time, it won't kill you...hopefully.