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On disc: Dragonland

Holy War - Claudia Ehrhardt - 6 stars
Holy War - Volker Raabe - 3 stars
Under The Grey Banner - Lars Bj°rn - 8 stars

Under The Grey Banner

Under The Grey Banner
(AFM Records - 2011)

News from the Swedish band Dragonland. Their last four albums have not given the greatest belief in the band, but small and slow progress has been the label that sticks to their name. All this changes with their new album Under The Grey Banner. Now they have suddenly found the right sound to lift themselves to a much higher level. Jonas Heidgert has tuned his voice to perfection and the mix between storytelling and symphonic fantasy metal really reaches both ends of their rope. 12 songs where the fairyland fantasies are overwhelming, melodic and powerful. Shadow Of The Mithril Mountain tells the story from their hearts, heavy metal with fairytale items included. The Tempest again symphonic tales of dragons and metal. The Black Mare has a lot of soft metal where they spread out their musical ideas, also great stuff. Durnirs Forge is melodic to the top point of the scale, soft fantasy metal and pinpoints their musical progress. The Trials Of Mount Farnor gives us very strong metal just to touch that end of their universe. Under The Grey Banner is a very powerful song with the most ultimate fantasy metal you can think of. Ivory Shores brings the album to and end with soft beautiful fantasies to give the evidence that their 5th album is different than the others, and much better than ever.

8 stars

Lars Bj°rn


Holy War

Holy War
(Black Lotus Rec. - 2002)

Last year the Swedish quintet released their debut album Battle Of The Ivory Plains which was recorded at Los Angered Studios with Andy La Roque (King Diamond). Now the five guys from Gothenburg are back with Holy War. Opening with an instrumental Hundred Years Have Passed they start and with the next track the musical direction is obvious. Majesty Of The Mithril Mountains is a fast double bass track and reminds me of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctic. But they are no copycats, they work with breaks, epic parts, different keyboard sounds. During instrumental parts the guys show their talent, but still supporting the track and keep it interesting for the listener. If you listen to the songs you'll also discover other elements... Some parts remind me of Bal-Sagoth or Finntroll. And more epic parts reminds me of Nightwish. An interesting mixture, they are crossing genres. On the title track guitarist Gus of Dream Evil / Mystic Prophecy added a solo. In the middle of the song there are guitar dueling solos of the bands guitarist and within this part Gus added a solo. Shows that Nicklas Magnusson and Olle M÷rck are talented and actually don't need another guitarist to step in. The track Calm Before The Storm slows down a little bit, but is still a powerful mid-tempo tune, but have also fast, double bass parts. Interesting is that singer Jonas Heidgert also is playing drums, but I guess live they will have a drummer to take over the job behind the drum kit. Due to the story line the music is written to fit, it'll be interesting to hear their composition without sticking to a concept. Hopefully next time they don't follow a concept...
The album was recorded at the famous Studio Fredman and digital mastered at Athens Mastering House. Btw, Holy War is the second and the last part of the story which started with Battle Of The Ivory Plains. This story is over, but I think it won't take long until we hear again from the Swedish.... They are on their way, where it will leads them? Time will tell.
If you want to check them out, listen to: Holy War, The Return To The Ivory Plains (my personal favorite), Forever Walking Alone (a powerful ballad) and One With All (instrumental).

6 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt



Holy War
(Black Lotus Rec. - 2002)

While other more innovative bands beg with bent knees the A&Rs to sign them, there are still many musical clones who have a deal.
I'm not a pedant, but the shit Dragonland gave us with Holy War can't be made better with nice words and won't be an easy to sell product.
What is really good about this album? The cover artwork! And if you judge CD from the way the cover looks, then many fans of traditional metal will be disappointed. The booklet gives you a wrong impression, coz Dragonland are playing what you get a lot better when you listening to Helloween and Gamma Ray.
I start getting pissed off by bands from Sweden / Finland which have no identity and are just jumping on the band wagon of known bands. To be honest, there are many really good bands, but Dragonland aren't one of them!

3 stars

Volker Raabe
(translation: Claudia Ehrhardt)


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