Dragonland - Starfall 3/5

Reviewed: 3-18-05


1. As madness took me
2. Starfall
3. Calling my name
4. In perfect harmony
5. The dream seeker
6. The shores of our land
7. The returning
8. To the end of the world
9. The book of shadows/Part l: A story yet untold
10. The book of shadows/Part ll: The curse of Qa'a
11. The book of shadows/Part lll: The glendora outbreak

This is the 3rd CD from this Swedish band, which before this have been high quality, fantasy drenched concept albums of something that is very pure heavy and power metal. This delivers on the promise, and I've come to hold it's predecessor, 'Holy war' in such high regard that I can't say that this is quite as good, but nevertheless it is a worthy and stunning successor. This band is obviously not concerned with being labelled or limited as a power metal band, all the requisite stylings and flourishes are here, and they work quite well, but still it's not as direct as the 2 CDs that came before it. It is nevertheless not a CD that sounds in anyway stale or derivative, as its combination of complexity, enthusiasm, and skill never let it get boring, and it's all delivered with the kind of sharp clarity in vocals and instruments that is enthusiastically enjoyed for works such as this.

The band is one notch less heavy on this CD when compared to their prior works, moving away from the core Blind Guardian power metal riffing and double bass drumming, and the title track especially delves into a sound which is just a bit too light, and you can hear more of the diversity which bands like Sonata Arctica weave into their work. The concept of a full fantasy story for the whole CD has been replaced with more disparate subjects, and ends up with a trilogy to fulfill that type of epic storytelling need. The production on this CD is a bit lush, especially in the tone of some of the prevalent keyboards, with less separation than their prior works, but it still works quite well. Not quite as essential as the 2 CDs that came before it, and any that are either offended by a happy power metal sound, or who want more direct, guitar driven metal need not apply.




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