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Dark Illusion - Beyond the shadows 3.5/5

Reviewed: 2-3-06


1. Night knight
2. Child of the night
3. Warrior
4. Power of the evil
5. Reaper of souls
6. Into the depths I stare
7. Secret journey
8. Weeper deeper
9. Tragedy
10. Leave no traces
11. Sensational walk
12. Runaway on the loose
13. Break the chains
14. Warlord of the night

Dark Illusion is a band that began in the early 80s, split-up a few years later, and it wasn't until 2003 that the band was resurrected by 2 of the original members, Tomas Hultqvist (guitarist/songwriter) and Niklas Tengblad (guitarist). They quickly released an EP 'For just another night' and 2 years later their full-length debut 'Beyond the shadows' entered the metal world. The CD's style is power metal, but it definitely has an 80s heavy metal influence, and I believe some of the songs were written way back in the 80s in fact. Only Tomas and Niklas from their original 80s line-up are members of the band now, but they were able to grab fellow countyman (Sweden) Thomas Vikstrom from the long-running Stormwind (and ex-Candlemass) to join the band as the vocalist. While I don't own any of the Candlemass CDs, I can tell you that his performance on 'Beyond the shadows' probably surpasses anything he's done with Stormwind. I feel the main reason for this is simple; the songs are much more upbeat than Stormind's melodic metal style and he's able to show off his range a little more.

As mentioned, the CD is quite upbeat and it really grabs your attention from the very start. Both track 1 "Night knight" and track 2 "Child of the night" are very catchy with memorable choruses, excellent guitar solos, and Thomas' vocals really stand out. While the CD slows down for track 3 "Warrior", it's very well written, and as much as I love the many faster songs on the CD, this is an outstanding song. Plus, the CD picks back up immediately with track 4 "Power of the evil" and continues with 2 of the CD's highlights (track 5 "Reaper of souls" and track 6 "Into the depths I stare"). These ultra-catchy songs are fun as hell, have a nice 80s vibe, and make me wish I didn't have a horrendous voice and could join in the chorus'. There's no slowing down as we begin the 2nd half of the CD either, but I do get a hard rock feel with some of the later songs, especially with track 11 "Sensational walk". Though I'm not really a fan of hard rock anymore, I've found that the CD's hard rock side is not one that deters me too much (though it does a little) from enjoying it, as the CD is full of great songwriting regardless of the music style. Besides the earlier mentioned "Warrior", only one other ballad exists, "Tragedy", one that's very memorable and is better than the majority of Stormwind's slower material. Nicely done!

Dark Illusion has really come out of nowhere and provided a CD that will appeal to many metal fans. Whether you're seeking a sound from the 80s, strong power metal of today, great guitar work (reminding me of Impellitteri in some spots and the very different Iron Maiden in others), screaming guitar solos, clear vocals with range or spectacular choruses, this CD will be sure to please. Only those who must have keyboards present with their metal will be disappointed here, and everyone knows that there are plenty of bands with the keyboard element, so quickly grab this very good debut and hope the band can provide us with a follow-up in the near future.




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