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There was a certain irony to the shape that power metal too in the mid to late 2000s, as the blurring of the lines between said style, AOR and even rock opera became ever more and more pronounced. This tendency largely came at the expense of the speed metal roots of the style that were ushered in by Helloween, Running Wild and several other noteworthy German acts, yet it was former members of Helloween that originally started the wayward trend via AOR-leaning flagship outfit Masterplan, which was closely followed by Edguy, yet another band with a fair bit of association with the older style and Helloween in particular. It wasn't without a certain degree of charm as this new approach made way for some interesting innovations, including a greater degree of prominence of the keyboards and a few little musical twists thrown in here and there, but eventually it got to the point where the gritty character of Masterplan made way for an super clean cut, almost mainstream rock friendly sound, and that is where Austrian super group Dignity fits into the late 2000s equation.
More often than not, projects forming via the exodus of persons from a larger established act tend to struggle at breaking out of the shadow of said band, but Martin Mayr and Roland Navratil's break from Edenbridge following The Grand Design sees them effortlessly seeking different horizons than the lofty symphonic glosses that put said band into similar territory as Nightwish. The recruitment of Dreamland vocalist Joacim Lundberg (aka Jake E.) is an interesting move given his closer association with heavier hitting outfits trending closer to the Hammerfall mode of power metal, but does appearing fitting given his eventual entry into Amaranthe, arguably the most pop-infused band to ride the metal train in recent memory. When considering all of these varied backgrounds, it makes sense to find Dignity's debut LP Project Destiny falling in that sort of middle of the road, kinda heavy but extremely smooth category reserved for bands like Enbound, the now defunct Masterplan spin-off Ride The Sky and Instanzia, with a few obvious caveats.
For the most part, the songs tend to chill out at a moderate to maybe slightly fast pace at times, relying more on atmospheric density with an occasional heavier riff-oriented segment instead of a full out impact-based approach. Things kick off on a decidedly rock-opera like moment comparable to Avantasia prior to their commercial blunder The Scarecrow in the title song "Project Destiny, featuring a vocal rich choral refrain that wheels through a few Neo-classical interludes and features a moderately intricate shuffling riff set. This amalgamation of rock opera in a moderately heavy yet largely atmospheric package sets the tone for a number of similarly intricate, if maybe overly ambitious songs like "Cry In Despair" and "Inner Demons" that almost seem to want to go in a progressive direction, but tend to find themselves wandering back into Avantasia/Edguy territory and come off as a bit schizophrenic. Nothing rises to the point of being outright bad, but often when these songs find a really good idea they tend to trail off without developing it fully.
This album and this band is generally at their best when they keep things simpler and go for an all out AOR-infused approach comparable to the dominant sound of the day, and there are some clear moments where they really shine. The down-tempo puncher "Arrogance And Rapture" keeps a good sense of order while still allowing for the keyboards to noodle about and features a solid Malmsteen emulation of a guitar solo out of Olof Mörck, a guest slot that may have paved the way for him yanking Jake E from this outfit as a charter member of Amaranthe a couple years later. Similar territory is hit with the driving rocker "Inner Circle Sympathy" and the Stratovarius tinged foray into somewhat older power metal territory "The Edge Of The Blade", complete with a riveting set of guitar solos out of Martin Mayr that rival Mörck's contribution, and one of the more flashy vocal performances found on here. Jake E's vocals are actually something of a double-edged sword on this album, as he has an impressive range and an uncanny ability to avoid drowning out the game of notes going on around him, yet he's so squeaky clean that he blends in with the keyboards a bit too much.
There are more hits than there are misses on here, but this is one of those albums that is more of an occasional treat than a certified classic. What it has in technical flair and sheer density is definitely commendable, but it also lacks that needed bit of grittiness and punch that made Masterplan's approach a few years prior work as well as it did. It almost seems as though they wanted to be a power prog. outfit but shied away from full taking the plunge by writing a few songs long and drawn out enough to allow them to really develop these interesting little side-dishes of technical flash that they serve up every 10-20 seconds, and instead opted to keep things fairly close to acceptable radio-friendly proportions. Chalk it up to yet another super group that has all the right influences, but doesn't quite focus them in a manner that would serve to exploit the ability of each part of the collective whole.
In my quest to discover fairly unknown bands, I've also stumbled across this little gem from Austria. One of the few melodic metal acts from the small alpine republic, Dignity are a group formed around drummer Roland Navratil, formerly of fellow Austrians Edenbridge, and keyboarder and producer Frank Pitters, feautring none other than Jake E. of Dreamland and Amaranthe fame on vocals on their first album "Project Destiny".
The album, which was released in 2008, comprises 9 tracks that look to find their own destiny somewhere in the nether realms between melodic metal and rock, spiced up with a select few progressive elements. The production is very clear and transparent, however it lacks a little punch from time to time, and Jake E.'s vocals could use a little more power behind them as well. However, what is left is still a somewhat enjoyable record. The opener and title track has a catchy chorus to offer, however it is the following "Arrogance and Rapture" that's truly the standout track of the album, with its driving riff by guitarist Martin and beautifully woven melodies. Another, more metal-esque highlight is "Icarus" with pounding double bass from the drums, and a broad chorus that invites to sing along.
Dignity also included a few funny references in their debut offering, such as a short musical quote of the legendary guitar solo from the popular TV show of the 80ies, "Saber Rider". And it's little wonder - Dignity's sound itself sounds a bit like it belongs in the 80ies, too. Sometimes the keyboard sounds are a little too cheesy and dominant for my taste, and the whole album could use a little more meat to it: nine tracks, one of which is a cover of Chris DeBurgh's "Don't pay the Ferryman" is almost a bit meager for a full-length album.
Nonetheless, "Project Destiny" should satisfy lovers of melodic metal and rock alike, if they are searching for a new discovery on the market. It's a strong sign of life, especially for a debut album, and it leads you to think about what will happen to this band as they continue to evolve and produce new material. I for one am definitely looking forward to a successor to "Project Destiny".
‘Project Destiny’ is Dignity’s first full-length release. Formed in 2006, the band plays a soothing hybrid of power metal and hard rock with optimistic imagery and melodic soundscapes. Although the band is a new addition to the metal scene, they have a wealth of experience with ex-Edenbridge drummer Roland Navratil filling up their ranks.
With hard rock paired with power metal, there is a large mire of opportunity at the band's dispense here. The most well-known band to attempt such a one-two punch is Germany's Edguy with their Rocket Ride release. Dignity's approach fortunately is substantially varied from Edguy's.
Like most power metal releases, the term ‘epic’ can be justifiably applied to this album with galloping guitars on ‘Dreams Never Die’, keys akin to symphonic metal on ‘Icarus’ and reverie-style musings on the title track. One of the most unique attributes on this album is the off-beat and unpredictable drumming on ‘Arrogance and Rapture’ that helps draw the band away from the quagmire of modern power metal.
The downside to this album is the drought of fresh ideas that follow. The opening number is cute and memorable but a few songs later, the listener knows precisely what to expect: typical power metal with heavier elements paying homage to hard rock. The second part of this album is largely insipid and this Swedish/Austrian group will have to dig deeper if they are serious about turning heads with this new project.
Originally written for www.soundshock.net
Behind this new band hides an old acquaintance of ours, the former drummer of Edenbridge Roland Navratil who, separated from the Austrian band, decided to start this new musical adventure.
The sound goals they are pursuing are those of a melodic hard rock that is outbalanced towards the neoclassical heavy and that does not go too close to the past of the former band of Roland. In common with Edenbridge they have just the taste for the baroque arrangements, for the orchestrations and long suites, but honestly they are characters that many bands behold and that do not justify a particular comparison.
For the rest it's the structure of the verses and the construction of the vocal parts to address the band towards the symphonic rock of Royal Hunt, also for the distortion effect and for the riffing, without forgetting the pomp edges that are given by some keyboard arrangement and by some close vocal structure to Queen. As it's usual in the present musical panorama, the adopted solutions to hit the heart of the new millennium melodic metallers is the following: majestic refined instrumental scores on one side, airy resounding melodies on the other.
And then if you find a singer like Swedish Jake E., able to climb onto the peak always remaining clean and warm, the job is done. A job that may seem easy, but only when you have a band like Dignity at work.