Dragonland

Bloodbound – Rise of the Dragon Empire Review

Bloodbound – Rise of the Dragon Empire Review

“I miss Swordborn. I really do. He was up on all the latest power metal cheddar and well steeped in the genre’s Gouda, bad and ugly. With him inexplicably missing in action, I’m tasked with more power metal glory than I’ve been since the primordial days of AMG. That means taking the bitter with the sweet and brother, there’s a lot of bitter out there. That brings us to Sweden’s Bloodbound, who began life as a traditional metal act helmed by the great Urban Breed. After he left the band, they shifted from classic to power metal, and since 2014s Stormborn, they’ve been playing the Game of Thrones, delivering tales of dragons, empires, and orcs with somewhat uneven results.” Train your dragon.

Dragonland – Under the Grey Banner Review

Dragonland – Under the Grey Banner Review

Talk about the right album at the right time! While I was never that big a fan of the symphonic bombast and Lord of the Rings fetishism of power metal acts like Blind Guardian and Rhapsody, I was tasked with reviewing the new Dragon- land opus over the same long weekend that local movie channels played the LOTR trilogy nonstop in their full extended glory. Since Under the Grey Banner is yet another slobbering Tolkien love-fest, replete with elves, orcs, swords and sappiness (which completes their own trilogy started on their first two albums), it fit right in. Like their previous works, it’s a full-on symphonic cheese factory with enough grandiose pomposity to choke a Balrog. You know exactly what it will sound like and what will be included. Overblown keyboards, soaring vocals, choirs, frenetic neo-classical guitar wankery, it’s a big, overwrought symphonic mess. As such, it manages to work about as well as most albums of this ilk but at least it didn’t send me running for a shot of insulin until the midway point. While its nothing you haven’t heard before from the likes of Rhapsody or Labyrinth, its well done and quite entertaining at times in a too-close-to-Broadway-musical kind of way. However, it has it’s share of consistency issues and isn’t as strong as their 2004 Starfall release. That said, I’m sure fans of this type of Dungeons & Dragons music will love it like a +10 sword of sliceification. In case there was ANY doubt about the nerd-factor of this stuff, Dragonland created an interactive website with maps and narrations to help guide you on the mystic journey they planned for you. Holy nerd bait, Batman!

Amaranthe – Amaranthe Review

Amaranthe – Amaranthe Review

Amaranthe has three vocalists. Just let that sink in for a while. From what I can tell, not one of those vocalists plays an instrument. Instead, they found three “attractive” people to do vocals for them. The first is a woman, who sounds like a pop singer (think E Type) and who I guarantee you cannot name a Slayer record. The second is a screamy dude. He’s got a beard (’cause he’s tough and angsty, you see) and he screams, but not too much (he must be very, very, very bored on stage). And then there’s the ‘power metal’ vocalist (Berg from Dream Evil) who’s just as over-produced as the chick vocalist and is there to get 14 year old girls all silly over his perfectly groomed dreadlocks. Behind them are several soulless session musicians (from Mercenary, Dragonland and Engel). Though, frankly, this is a band that is functionally made of session musicians, since integrity seems to be lacking.