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They are arguably the most progressive and modern of all the "true" power metal bands out there - the Swedes of Dragonland have always been a household name for high-class power metal with symphonic elements. So I was naturally very excited to get my hands on their latest album, the conclusion of their first saga, titled "Under the grey Banner". And I should not be disappointed.
The group, led by guitarist Olof Mörck of Nightrage and Amaranthe fame, never fails to deliver, and "Under the grey Banner" easily lives up to all expectations. Spiced up with well-narrated spoken bits and finely crafted instrumental arrangements, Dragonland present intricately composed melodic metal that packs both sufficient punch in its production as well as great hooks and melodies in its compositions. And no matte if if's the highly melodic chorus of "Shadow of the Mithril Mountains" or the catchy hook of "A thousand Tower white", the pounding, gallopping beat of "The Black Mare" or the beautiful, Enya-esque finale of "Ivory Shores" with its haunting female vocals supplied by Anna Mariann Lundberg - the 2011 outing by Dragonland should be top of the shelf in every fantasy metal fan's collection. Lord of the Rings afficionados and Game of Thrones fetishists alike will find a lot to love about this album.
As three of the most outstanding tracks you'd have to mention "Fire and Brimstone", "Throne of Bones" and the overly long title track which all feature amazing guest performances by musical singer Fred Johanson who adds a bit of intrigue and grandeur to the overall sound of the band, and makes it all the more interesting. The crisp production is just the icing on an already truly well-tasting cake.
All in all, 2011 hardly saw a better release in terms of symphonic power metal, and I'd even go so far as to say that Dragonland are right now the band of the hour when it comes to this genre. It just doesn't get much better than this if you want to hear classical power metal that still sounds fresh and new, and that doesn't recycle the same old ideas time and again. Check this one out!