It's difficult to get a good grasp on what really is metal these days. It is drop tuning, crushing riffs and an inhuman scream? Is it a pounding rhythm section, tremolo picking and men wearing bondage gear? Or is it the elements found to the bottom left-hand side of the periodic table, which exhibit the most metallic properties. In these troubled times, who really knows? Dream Evil, of course! (But you already knew that, if you've been paying attention, that is).
Back in the '80s and early '90s, Manowar
were the undisputed kings of metal. Hell, with their finely chiselled abs, animal skin undies and well oiled hair, they were metal incarnate. But, then something happened; the band just fell off the face of the earth, with nary a release for many years. (For more information, simply refer to this [url=http://www.sputnikmusic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=311479]informative article[/url]. Something had to fill this void, this empty space were a truly metal band could lead the charge of all metalheads into the ears and heads of all of those darned conformists
Unfortunately, it was not until the new millennium that the heirs to the throne would rise. The first of these was Lost Horizon
, whom those intelligent enough to read ALL my reviews will know well by now, and following a year later was Dream Evil with their epic debut Dragonslayer
Formed in 1999 by the famous Gothenburg producer Fredrik Nordstrom, Dream Evil was more the product of a will to form a supergroup than a band formed by more conventional means. Although you may find a lot more information in the [url=http://www.sputnikmusic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=389219]FA on Dream Evil[/url], I will touch briefly on the difference between this album and their previous two.
You see, just like their unusual formation, Dream Evil also recorded their first two albums under strange circumstances. Their debut was recorded amongst the band doing things like meeting each other for the first time. Their sophomoric effort, Evilized
was conceived and written on a plane flying over Europe and Asia. In stark contrast, The Book Of Heavy Metal
was written, edited and recorded over a good period of time, it was the result of a flurry of creativity from all the band members. With several albums worth of material, drummer Snowy Shaw spearheaded the gradual refining process that removed every song that just didn't "fit". What remained was the cream of the band's crop, the best of the best, the superlative adjective of their hyperbole, if you will.
Opening with the incredibly over-the-top, balls out, cheesy power metal anthem The Book Of Heavy Metal (March Of The Metallians)
, the album sets the tone for a resurgence of what made metal the genre it is today. The title track features riffs that aren't compromised by a catchy melody, but rather complemented by it. And the lyrics! Depending on temperament, you'll either by pissing your pants laughing (or from a weak bladder, but that's your problem) or raising your fists and beating up the nearest teenybopper. Indeed, as Niklas Isefeldt so eloquently tells us:
Don't need no flashy house,
no car or ugly wife
the only thing I want,
is what my parents don't
Now here is a song that we can all relate to, in some way or another. For a real look into the band's psyche, check out this songs video, directed by Patric Ulleus. It can explain things more succinctly than I ever could.
In a similar vein to the title track (i.e. dealing with the music itself) are tracks like The Sledge
, No Way
and Let's Make Rock
. All three are crunching, thumping tributes to Rock and Metal, proclaiming its longevity;
Originally Posted by No Way
Rock'n'Roll will never die!
its addictive properties;
Originally Posted by The Sledge
It's something I can't live without
Beyond the shadow of a doubt
and ultimately its energy and sense of fun.
Originally Posted by Let's Make Rock
Let's go crazy we won't stop until we make you go wild
Don't be lazy altogether now stand up and shout
The band also focuses on other issues through their lyrics, such as self-image and self-worth, and the negative issues which we all grapple with in life. However, the band is solely not about the lyrics, outrageous or otherwise, but instead showcases the talents of all the musicians.
Gus G, the enigmatic Grecian guitar hero (say 6 times quickly for extra credit) displays his talents with flourish on almost every song. From the dazzling main solo in The Book Of Heavy Metal
, to the mystical intro to Unbreakable Chain
, he wears his influences on his sleeve, marrying the sound from bands like Judas Priest, Scorpions and Iron Maiden to a unique writing style. And it works wonder, lending a verve and pace to the songs that really drives the anthems home, and makes the ballads that much more poignant.
Complementing Gus on the often over-looked rhythm guitar, Nordstrom provides a style similar to the melodic death bands he has produced in the studio, which really gives a powerful, heavily distorted base for Gus to build upon. And Nordstrom is no slouch with an axe either, as he proves on the end solo for the title track, and the galloping melody for tracks like M.O.M
and Crusader's Anthem
And speaking of galloping, Peter Stalfors, the group's bassist, whilst never prominently featured in the album, nonetheless makes his presence known with his Steve Harris-like tone and style, which gives every song a great feel. Chosen Twice
, which is an outstanding track simply for its operatic chorus and neo-classical opening passage, is a good example of his ability to add to the song from the background.
Rounding out the rhythm section, but never in the background, is the prolific drummer extraordinaire Snowy Shaw. An absolute monster behind his set, he lends the same flamboyance seen on his work with Mercyful Fate, King Diamond and Memento Mori to Dream Evil. Thunderous beats and cacophonous cymbals are plentiful, adding the final touches to the album, the right amount of flair and power to make a good record, great. Again, listen to The Book Of Heavy Metal
or the bonus track The Enemy
for a good sample of his flair and skill behind the set.
Now, I'm not naive. I know a lot of you hardy fellows who make it a point to read every
review, no matter the genre (or how much you despise it), are shaking your heads, as this clearly isn't a record that you would enjoy. And you are partly right, since the band makes no apology for their sound. This is straight up the middle power metal. It doesn't try anything fancy, or bring anything astoundingly new to the table. However, what it does do is provide an avenue into power metal that is accessible to newcomers whilst still entirely enjoyable for even the most knowledgeable fan to listen to. And for that, this album is worth its wait in gold.
Its weakest track Only For The Night
, which grates on the nerves with both Isefeldt's shrillest vocals and the least enjoyable riffs from Gus and Nordstrom, is still miles ahead of a lot of the best songs put out by other bands in the genre. And the great tracks, like The Mirror
with the feeling of "Scorpions" stamped all over it, just make the experience all the more better. And that's why it gets a 4.5 from me. So listen to it, understand it, and maybe, just maybe, you'll love it. And if you don't, well, I'll personally get Manowar, Lost Horizon and
Dream Evil to kick your arse, you poseur.