Dragonheart - Vengeance in black 3/5

Reviewed: 12-30-05





Tracklist:

1. Eyes of hell
2. Silent sentinel
3. Crusaders march
4. The ancient oracle
5. Queops escape
6. Secret cathedral
7. Heart of a hero
8. Vengeance in black
9. Calling the dragons
10. Spreading fire


'Vengeance in black' is the 3rd full-length release from these gradually evolving bearers of dark, melodic, fantasy power metal from Brazil. The band returns to the strong Grave Digger/Paragon stylings shown at times on the prior CD, especially in "Hail the blacksmith" and also at times retains some of the classic Blind Guardian/The Storyteller, mid-range vocals, heavy double-bass influences that seemed strongest on the band's debut. The band uses an interesting pattern of different vocalists by all the non-drummers in the band, with Mauricio Taborda and Marco Caporasso both channeling Herr Boltendahl fairly strongly, while André Mendes offers up a bit cleaner power metal vocals. "Silent sentinel" to me is one of the most compelling tracks, just a tremendous lead riff accompanying the admittedly simple and repetitive chorus, definitely elevating the song on its melody alone. "Queops estate" is also a really strong track, and I also love the swelling, if straightforward, chorus of that track.

The lyrics are the high concept-high fantasy that I never hoped would happen until Rhapsody actually put a map in the booklet to their first CD. It continues the story from the prior CD, and not only are all the lyrics tied into the story, but the booklet features the lengthy explanation of where each song stands in the fantasy tale. Plenty of names like Lynhkhor, Theodoric, Akronis, and Arlin, so those who embrace and love such traditions will rejoice, and those who do not like this style of writing will be appropriately (or in my book, inappropriately) offended.

The music is nicely memorable, fairly straightforward riffs and crunch, and without judgment, certainly closer to the darker Grave Digger side of European power metal than it is the clean and/or happy stylings of Stratovarius or Helloween. Some of the strong melodic leads are, as mentioned above, one of the CD's best qualities. The fact that the songs are relatively basic means that they're all fairly enjoyable and easy to get into, but also don't offer any amazing depth or unique impressions. This is not the greatest or most ascendant example of the genre, but this is sustaining metal that is the equivalent of comfort food, in the classic Teutonic mold with complete high fantasy influence, and for those that are a fan of this combination, a thoroughly enjoyable pick-up.



CRAIG




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