Dragonheart The Battle Sanctuary 02From time to time, there are works of art which remind us of the more important things in life; works of art which refocus our gaze on what it is to be human, and what our goals as a race should be. Such examples appear in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, both of which take their audiences to unheralded locations with innovative narrative techniques. It’s for this reason that Dragonheart is paramount in man’s interaction with music. If not for such albums as The Battle Sanctuary, who would remind us of our primitive warmongering? Of gods and kings and swords and shields? Of halcyon times where it was not just socially acceptable, but encouraged, to raid poorly-defended acquaintances and ravage their family? These are idolatrous times in which we live and Dragonheart serve to remind us mere mortals that demons exist and it’s our duty to repel their necromanctic advances, brandishing axes and with battle cries in our hearts.

Flaunting the type of classic and power metal crossover from the likes of Ironsword, The Battle Sanctuary is Dragonheart‘s first full-length in a decade, having reshuffled drummers. They’ve nonetheless remained trve to their roots, with thrashy overtones ensuring their aggressive and solder-like heft over flamboyant jesters of Luca Turilli‘s ilk. Though there are inconsistencies, I have to admire these fun shenanigans and the band’s earnestness in their medieval delivery.

“Far from Heaven… Close to Hell” and “Black Shadow” wallop you out the gates as two of the record’s strongest tracks. They boast everything that works, with hooky riffs, catchy choruses and boundless energy. Excluding a brief intro, the thrashy lead in “Far from Heaven…” demonstrates an intrinsic knack for memorable hooks, underpinning the song in a genre which can get overly fruity. Both choruses features backing chants and a ball-tightening clean vocalist, but this is counter-balanced by the heavier shouted vox. He offers a good harmonizing force to the clean vocalist, ensuring the material is heavy for the genre. Indeed, orchestral components are judiciously utilized to complement what’s already there, rather than supplanting metal instrumentation. It’s pleasing to hear power metal musicians who make goddamned heavy metal music, and don’t thoroughly investigate the darkest reaches of their own rectums.

Dragonheart The Battle Sanctuary 01

It’s unfortunate that not all tracks can hit these heights. The vocals are executed by three out of four band members, rendering a great variety in styles. However, the different styles aren’t deployed tactically in the best possible passages, lending a sense of variety for variety’s sake. The shouts don’t have the range to carry the sole vocal melody, such as in the verses of “The Arcane’s Palace,” and the cleans sound somewhat strained on this track’s chorus. Additionally, there are a couple of passages with a great style which isn’t reused – the warm, bluesy tone at the beginning of the obligatory ballad “Marching Under the Stars” is lovely but subsequently ignored. The epic long notes held on “Circle of One” are evident here alone, when they would be a boon to the album’s remainder.

The Battle Sanctuary is also somewhat inconsistent. The title track is rather forgettable and the third and fourth tracks are actively quite bad. Songs fall down in comparison to their neighbors where their vocal or guitar hooks aren’t clingy enough. Cutting these would close out the record in a brief forty minutes which would conform to the immediacy favored elsewhere. As already mentioned, I enjoy how direct Dragonheart are, so a shorter album of highlights would suit them. The Battle Sanctuary is a fun record from a band who proudly bear a heavy shield and brandish a thrashy broadsword while undertaking their craft. The extremely loud production, spotty vocals and few weak tracks let it down, but I can recommend this pledge of trveness to fans of Ironsword and Blind Guardian.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps MP3
Label: Pitch Black Records
Websites: facebook.com/dragonheart
Releases Worldwide: October 2nd, 2015

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  • Hey, Cuervo! Stop co-opting my societal niche!

    • Kronos

      Adapt or die!

      • Barbarians with swords = Steel Druhm

        • Monsterth Goatom

          First thing I saw this morning was that album cover, and I thought “Yea, a Steely D review!” Then I saw El_Cuevro’s name (not to slight him, of course).

          • El_Cuervo

            Steely D? That’s an odd name for your erection.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            My dick writes reviews? Check with your boss: it was from him that I heard that name. Here’s hoping I didn’t piss on your Cheerios.

      • I saw this on the sign for my local Methodist church when i lived in miles city Montana. Montana where everything is metal as fuck.

        • Kronos

          Best state in the union.

      • Siege Bantayan

        All of a sudden I’m missing Forbidden. :(

  • Iain Gleasure

    If Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is what it means to be human then being human involves wasting $11.25 on movie tickets and falling asleep to shit floating in space for 2 and a half hours.

    • CarvedInStone

      Thank you for that comment! I knew I wasn’t the only one who thinks that this movie is soooooo overrated. It looks absolutely beautiful,t he effects are stunning (especially if you cosider when the movie was released) and I acknowledge that there probably isn’t a space sci-fi movie that doesn’t owe some debt to this. As a special effects tech demo it’s great. As a movie telling a story it falls flat.

  • JeremyZero

    Wow, did not like that song at all. I think it was gravel voice guy. Just didn’t work for me.

    • Martin Knap

      nothing beats Nightwish.

      • JeremyZero

        Well, I’m not sure that’s true. But I there’s nothing wrong with some Nightwish from time to time.

  • ronin1572

    vocalist is pretty horrible

    • Steve

      Yeah he sounds atrocious. The background “choir” vocals sound absolutely rubbish too.

    • Kalsten

      Yep, I am in the same train. It pretty much ruined the music for me.

  • CarvedInStone

    The next person that writes a comment complaining about:
    a) how this website reviews too much Power Metal
    b) how this got a better grade than the Book Of Souls
    or c) how this got a better grade than Repentless

    will ge dick-slapped by me through the internet. I swear I’ll figure out a way to do it!

    And I don’t even know anything about this band. I’m doing it on principle!


      Seriously, the Book of Souls/Repentless stans are fucking ridiculous. It’s like a personal affront to some people.

    • tomasjacobi

      I DO think it’s ridiculous that this is better graded than Book of Souls. Judging by the embedded track this is a horrible band.
      Mr. El Cuervo seems to have gotten a bit carried away.
      Anyway, I understand and appreciate the grading system on AMG and when Iron Maiden gets a 2.5 it’s in the context of their whole discography so you can’t really compare a 3.5 for a relatively unknown band and a 2.5 for a famous and influential band.
      Will I get dick-slapped now?

      • CarvedInStone

        Nah, you’re reasonable. My comment was directed at the kind of people who took AMG’s Maiden review or Dr. Fisting’s Slayer review as an personal affront and don’t really understand how the rating system works here.

      • basenjibrian

        Maybe stabbed with a very small dagger. Dick slapping is only for EGREGIOUS offenses!

    • At least this album is funny. Describing the vocals as “spotty” is being extremely nice. There’s nothing funny about the Book of Souls if one doesn’t like it, so in that sense it is worse.

    • Thatguy

      Well, just on principle then – Power Metal sucks and you can keep your dick to yourself!

      • CarvedInStone

        I think I already mentioned in the comment section of another review that I don’t care whether people like Power Metal or not. What get’s me is that every time there is a Power Metal review posted here there is at least one person who complains about this website doing to many Power Metal reviews. Which is bullshit.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Wait I thought this was a gindcore site!

  • Make a praaawwwwmisss to yourself! hahaha awesome

  • Monsterth Goatom

    The big meanie on the cover bears a striking resemblance to the one on the Gloryhammer cover.

    • Who’s parodying who? When does it all slide into post-ironic, and end in duels? Only time will tell. In the meantime, MAKE A PRAAAAWWWWMISS TO YOURSELF! hahahaha

  • JL

    Honestly those are some horrible vocals. It’s like he’s just singing random notes on top of each other…no sense of melody at all. The guitars are ok. I’ll pass on this one and stick with Temple of Baal and especially the new Thy Catafalque record Sgurr. Amazing job on that one, for sure.

  • Steve

    “…but I can recommend this pledge of trveness to fans of Ironsword and Blind Guardian.”

    Not having that, BG are true pioneers in terms of pushing their sound and leaders of the genre, there’s no comparison to this, which is boring, generic and full of cliches. File alongside Manowar or Hammerfall.

    • Are you saying Manowar isn’t a pioneer? They basically invented power metal. And I’ll still take Battle Hymns over most modern stuff.

      • Steve

        Yet having done sweet F A with with their sound in nearly 3 decades

        • While I appreciate that you evidently have some weird love for BG, I gotta remind you that power metal is inherently silly music and maybe you’re taking it a little too seriously. In any case, it’s pretty clear you have little experience with Manowar, and I invite you to actually listen to all their albums, I would suggest starting from the beginning. I mean, you have to at least love them up to The Triumph of Steel. and that was in 1992, so you can knock it off with your “three decades” crap.

    • CarvedInStone

      You know that Manowar pioneered a lot of these cliches, right?

      • Steve

        Yet haven’t progressed in over 30 years

        • CarvedInStone

          What nidefatt said. I don’t think anyone is denying that Manowar have been stagnating for a while.

          I just find it weird that you call BG pioneers in one sentence and then slam Manowar in the next considering that they have been pioneers and inspired a great many bands.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    As a huge BG fan, this recomendation almost made me puke.

  • basenjibrian

    Except for rare cases like Atlantean Codex, just cannot get into power metal all that much. And I am a sci fi geek and was into fantasy. Nothing WRONG with the sample track, it’s just that power metal all sounds generic and the same to me.

  • Noobhammer

    This album is fun romp for me. It reminds me of Millennium Metal/State of Triumph era Metalium. You have some great peaks, but also some big downers that just seem out of place. It’s nothing too out there, but damn it if it still ain’t a good headbanger for the most part..

  • RuySan

    There’s nothing really innovative about “The Road”. I like McCarthy, but I find it to be one of his weaker novels. Blood Meridian, on the other hand, is absolutely immense.

    If you want a much better post-apocalyptic novel, try “Blindness” by Saramago.