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Drakkar is the second of three Italian bands that I bring to the review table this month. If you are interested in the Italian scene or sound, then I suggest you also check out my reviews of Doomsword and Heimdall from this month.
Drakkar made their debut in 1998 with their first full-length, QUEST FOR GLORY, followed by GEMINI in 2000. Both albums are of the typical Italian style, melodic and symphonic power metal, solid, though not overly impressive. Following the release of GEMINI, Drakkar underwent massive lineup changes, replacing every member of the band save for two founding members, guitarist and songwriter Dario Beretta, and drummer Christian Fiorani.
On RAZORBLADE GOD, Drakkar take a new path separate from most of their Italian colleagues, this time playing a heavier, speedier, more aggressive, and riff-based flavour of power metal. With the new blood comes new life, including a powerful new vocalist Davide Dell’Orto, who would just as easily fit well into a classic 80s metal band, his voice having the edge that is complementary to Drakkar’s new style.
The change in Drakkar’s style is evident from the opening riffs to the leadoff title track, a straightforward power metal track. Not leaving the symphonic element completely behind, this track features some nice synth fills courtesy of new keyboardist Corrado Solarino, as well as a fairly typical Italian catchy chorus. The style carries over through the next track, “Man and Machine” until “To The Future,” one of the best songs on the album. This song opens with a deceptive, mellow piano intro before blasting into some killer speed metal. Beretta and Solarino trade some mean guitar and keyboard solos towards the middle of this track. Dell’Orto really shines on this one, as does Daniele Persoglio with his prominent basswork.
Unlike Drakkar’s previous two albums, RAZORBLADE GOD is not a concept album. The lyrics on this album range from the sci-fi “Man And Machine,” and “The Matrix” the voyage of Lief Erikson on “To The Future,” Dante on “The Inferno,” and pay homage to Tolkien on “Galadriel’s Song.” Almost surprisingly, the ballad “Galadriel’s Song” is one of my favourite tracks on the album; the lyrics, acoustic guitar, and delicate keys creating a mournful track fitting for the Elf Queen. My other favourite track on the album is “Witches’ Dance,” which opens with a catchy bass intro before blasting into an excellent riff/synth combo to get my head banging instantaneously. Closing out the album is a very cool cover of the classic Magnum song, “Kingdom of Madness.”
The production on RAZORBLADE GOD is clean, though I feel it could be crisped up a bit more in some places. Also, while the songwriting has improved considerably from the first two, I feel that a couple of the songs tend to sound the same and run together after a couple of spins. Still, this album is a huge step up for Drakkar. With hope and luck, this lineup will remain stable, and we will have more releases to come from these true Italian metallers. The packaging on the CD is very nice overall, despite being in digipak format (which I abhor), and includes the music video for “To The Future,” which is a great touch. Fans of classic, speed, and power metal as well as any fan of the Italian scene would do well to check out Drakkar’s third and strongest release.
(originally written by me for www.metal-rules.com, January, 2003)