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It has been a "on/off" past for Swedish metallers Dark Illusion. They formed as early as in 1982, but in 1985 it was over. Until 2003, that is, when they returned and two years later released their debut album 'Beyond the Shadows'. After that, the band was back in the docks. Last year they started to work on new songs, which became their second full length album 'Where the Eagles Fly'.
The first thing that might strike those who have followed Swedish scene in the past, is that the album features singer Thomas Vikström. He sang on Candlemass' 'Chapter VI' (1992) and was recruited earlier this year by the mighty Therion. Mr. Vikström has a classical tenor training, but here he does pure metal singing. His voice can be depicted like something between Tarot's Marco Hietala and Hammerfall's Joacim Cans, and Falconer's Mathias Blad at times.
Dark Illusion aren't a young band, and either their metal doesn't sound modern. There are influences from a decace back to three decades back. The album begins with more upbeat Swedish style power metal, and 'Land of Street Survivor' presents NWOBHM into the concoction, actually sounding not very different from Tarot. 'Evil Masquerade' bows to Dio. While the band have managed to compose memorable songs, the x-factor is missing. Maybe it's just the truth, that there's nothing too characteristic about the songs. But still they work from start to finish. The music was composed by guitarist Thomas Hultqvist alone.
The production isn't the same throughout the album. I don't know if the band wanted varying sound for each song. Mainly the sound is okay, but some songs have more bass than others. Weird. For some reason 'Running out of Time' features annoying, flapping snare drum sound. The performances are good from the vocalist and the instrumentalists, no doubt about them. By the way, ex- Lion's Share guys Pontus Egberg (bass) and Johan Kullberg (drums) play on the album.
While filled with good songs, 'Where the Eagles Fly' just cannot soar as high as it could. Something is missing, and I suspect it to be character. However, if Swedish power/heavy metal is your thing, you should check out Dark Illusion. Rush of 'Dark Journey', true heavy metal bite of 'Pay the Price', Dioish 'Evil Masquerade' and classically-influenced 'Epic' are sure bets to try this one out.
- originally written for www.archaicmetallurgy.com -