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Toning down the metal worship a bit. - 75%

hells_unicorn, March 16th, 2011

I count myself amongst a sizable minority of followers of Dream Evil who were not terribly impressed with “The Book Of Heavy Metal” and all of the pretension that came with it. It struck me a little odd that immediately following the release of the album that suddenly people decided to start drooling over this band, as if what they done hadn’t already been done better by Hammerfall or Metalium 5 years earlier. Fortunately the lineup chaos that ensued after the release of the overblown fit of shallow fanfare guising as an album seemed to have shook the band up a little, and an album has emerged that is safe for the lactose intolerant.

“United” sees this band turning back the clock a few years in some respects, going for a sound that is more in line with the darker concepts on “Evilized”, while having maybe a slight helping of the mystique of “Dragonslayer” here and there. The makeup is uncannily 80s in character, the vocals still have some semblance of the Klaus Meine character of old, though Nick’s newfound love of Halford screams is still present from time to time. Perhaps my biggest gripe about this album is that newly recruited guitarist Markus Black overdoes it on the lead fills, attempting to no doubt channel Gus G’s sound for sake of stylistic consistency, but coming off as an overcompensating version of Jake E. Lee’s over the top contributions to Ozzy’s “Bark At The Moon”.

For the most part, things tend to hang out in mid-tempo heavy metal territory, as the band has taken the old school character as their dominant influence, save a few exceptions. “Kingdom At War” and the opener “Fire! Battle! In Metal!” feature a dual approach of heavy thudding verse riffs with a gritty vocal approach, immediately followed by a triumphant anthem chorus that is all but directly out of the Manowar playbook. Likewise, “Evilution” and “United” take the same approach but with a riff set more reminiscent of the rocking grooves of Accept. Things get kicked up a little bit on “Blind Evil”, which is somewhat more along the lines of a Helloween-like fanfare, really kicking up the heroic factor on the chorus. But the true high points come in when the band goes back to high speed power in the typical German fashion ala “Falling” and the Japanese bonus track “Pain Patrol”, both reminding heavily of 80s era Judas Priest.

As a whole, this is something of a middle of the road album. It’s not quite something that can be qualified as essential from a genre standpoint, though it is a decent album and probably worth the time of those who like the 80s revivalist sound propagated by a number of Swedish and German bands. Don’t expect to be wowed by the band’s prowess as purveyors of socially relevant causes or mastery in storytelling, but definitely prepare yourself to be entertained by a band that is reasonably good at what they do.

No Snowy, No Gus, No Problem - 90%

Flamos, May 29th, 2009

This is Dream Evil’s fourth full-length effort, and many are skeptical. Mainly because of the line-up change. Through this bands existence the band has maintained the same line-up. With Gus G. and Snowy Shaw both departing (arguably the most famous band members) this bands existence felt shady.

However, you’re doubts will be dispelled rather quickly. Pat Power is a better drummer than Snowy Shaw (yes, I did just say that) and Markus Black is every bit as talented as Gus. G. An line-up questions need to be destroyed, because it’s not worth arguing. “Fire! Battle! In Metal!” opens the record, which is also the single. Another metal anthem to add to the Dream Evil collection and it’s a good one. “United” is my favorite song here, really good vocals from NIklas Isfeldt. The entire record contains amazing vocal work, like all Dream Evil records. “Evilution” is awesome in every sense of the word. This record has a similar feel to “Evilized,” it’s just much better. Not as much filler and it doesn’t feel rushed. “Let Me Out” is a speedy track with great drum work, cool bass from Peter Stalfors too. “Higher on Fire” and “Kingdom at War” are both mid-tempo tracks, both of them are nothing special but not bad. “Love is Blind” is one of the better Dream Evil ballads, which isn’t saying much but it’s good. “Falling” has odd lyrics, but the overall feel is speedy and heavy, which is nice. “Back From the Dead” and “Doomlord” are both repetitive and uninteresting, very disappointing and some of the worst Dream Evil songs. “My Number One” is a cover of a song from someone I’ve never heard, but it’s actually good.

One thing to notice is the improved songwriting. Mainly from the departure of Snowy Shaw, who did most of the writing for the band. New energy has been pumped into this band, and I love it. We all know previously the writing was weak, but you will enjoy it here. However cracks still show in songs like “Falling.” Overall though, much improved. The production is also improved over previous efforts.

This band got a kick in the ass and delivered. With the new members etching their names in Dream Evil history, and the much improved song writing this bands future is brighter than the sun. To be honest, you won’t be missing Gus G. and Snowy Shaw. There is a minimal amount of filler here unlike “Evilized.” This arguably the best Dream Evil record so far, worth a purchase if you’re a fan of the band or just checking them out.

Fire! Battle! In Metal! - 95%

Glasylabolas, May 5th, 2009

Only recently have I been introduced to this powerful band, and I am extremely glad that I was. Dream Evil is a classic speed/power metal band that will bring harmony to the otherwise bland mass of utter shit (Waking The Cadaver, I'm looking at you).

Vocals: Niklas has always had a great voice, and on this album he bolsters that fact considerably. His voice drives powerful melody into the music, his singing soaring above and beyond the call of duty. His lyrics are sometimes corny, but it is a very small price to pay for being treated to his skill.

Guitars: Fredrik and Daniel both crank out some great riffs in this album, the drop D tuning enabling them to add melody and still stay heavy throughout their songs. They command respect on this album with shredding solos and matching melodies that accentuate the vocals in a wonderful way. The soloing is not only fast and technical, but it also adds even more melody to the songs.

Bass: While Peter may not be high profile in the songs, he does manage to add some great atmosphere and add depth to the double bass rhythms grace this album. The basslines are flawless, and they flow very well with the music.

Drums: Pat is a drum machine with a heart; his rhythms are powerful and perfect, and his beats will blow a hole in your chest. His double bass and snare patterns match the guitar very well, and proves to pump anyone up in no time!

Overall: This is one of the most solid bands I have heard so far. All of the musicians are incredibly skilled and work very, very well with each other. The songs are very distinctive and original, with inspiring riffs and beats that will have you playing along happily.

Coming back stronger than before! - 90%

Vegetaman, November 7th, 2007

With the first two albums Dragonslayer and Evilized, Dream Evil had established a very interesting (albeit cheesy) power metal sound. The group was solid and the songs were good, and the production was great. And there were plenty of great guitar solos to accompany this. But then the clunker known as "The Book of Heavy Metal" came down the chute, and it was a step backwards for the band. There were a few good tracks on it (like "Into The Moonlight" and Only For The Night"), but it really was a downturn for the band. And then Snowy Shaw and Gus G left the band (plus there were various lineup changes that happened there, but then Niklas and Peter came back). I have to say I was skeptical that Mark Black could pull off replacing Gus G in the guitar solo department... But he does a damned fine job!

This album sees the band returning to a sound more like Dragonslayer and Evilized, and it starts off with the classic "Fire! Battle! In Metal!". Laugh all you want about the name of the song, (I know I did when I picked this album up), but on first listen you will be blown away. The band holds nothing back as they slam into your ears full force with this powerful song. This album is packed with songs full of great choruses and guitar solos, and unlike earlier albums, there's no songs I would skip. Even the 5 tracks on the bonus disk are just as good as the rest of the album, with "Calling Your Name" being good enough that it could've easily been the second track on the album.

My favorite song on the album has to be "Let Me Out". I was surprised at how well the lyrics were done for this entire album, but especially this song. The premise is that somebody sold their soul to Satan for success, fame, power, and all that, but then decided that it was a bad plan and he sold his soul too cheaply, so he recants and wants his soul back and to get out of hell. So, upon this being granted, he decides he wants success again and to rid his life of pain, so he sells his soul again. It's really well written and the music pairs up with it perfectly. The real standout track from this album.

Other than that, the track "Doomlord" is very catchy and pleasing. They also do a very good cover of the song "My Number One" by Elena Paparizou. There's a couple of good laughs too from choruses like "Higher on Fire" and "Blind Evil", and the entire album flows very well but isn't so similar that you get tired of listening to it. And, as I mentioned before, the bonus tracks are all very good (at least the 5 US ones, I don't have the Japanese import).

It seems like Dream Evil has transformed nicely into a very good power metal band. I am pleased. Even though I do miss Gus G's epic guitar solos, for some reason the band seems to have fared well after his and Snowy Shaw's departure. Hopefully the band will continue in a fashion and release more material like United, where they just continue to improve on their sound and don't fall back into the rut they hit with The Book of Heavy Metal.

If you like power metal, or if you are leary of this album because you got burned out on Dream Evil because of The Book of Heavy Metal... Definitely pick up United. You will not be disappointed with it!

Oh, the irony... - 81%

Empyreal, April 13th, 2007

...Dream Evil finally makes a really great album after the loss of Gus G and Snowy Shaw, two extremely talented musicians whose shoes weren't easy to fill. After two albums that were enjoyable yet rather lackluster overall, this is like a breath of fresh air, like coming up to the surface after a long time under the ocean. 'United' is surprisingly consistent for this band, which is a real shocker, considering how bland some of the songs on past releases were. Snowy Shaw is not around to dominate the songwriting this time, and maybe that's part of the reason for the change in Dream Evil's sound. The band has hearkened back to their speedy power metal roots here instead of going further down the 80s rock road, and it's a welcome change! Several songs here are amongst the best Dream Evil have ever done, all of which can stand up against catchy, melodic masterpieces like "Chasing the Dragon", "Heavy Metal In the Night", and "Save Us" from the debut. I think that's what this album was trying to accomplish. 'The Book of Heavy Metal' was a departure from their former sound, and this album, while not breaking ground, is an attempt to regain their footing and show that they can still pump out killer shit like the songs from the debut. And I daresay it succeeds in this respect.

The amount of really solid heavy metal here is stunning, and Dream Evil have created a very good album chock full of energy. This is very much the true sequel to the 'Dragonslayer' album, with no overly dumb lyrics (not to 'Evilized' level), and no butt-rock influence. Just about 50 minutes of poignant and energetic heavy metal that's bound to get your fist pumping. From the blazing "Fire! Battle! In Metal!" to the anthemic title track, and to...several other shining metallic crackers that show how damn good this band can be when they want. "Blind Evil" and "Falling" are volleying displays of heavy metal arrogance with a few of the catchiest choruses this band has ever done (and that's saying something!). "Evilution" and "Let Me Out" are darker, grinding tunes with some pretty damn cool lyrics for Dream Evil, very nice stuff. At the end we get two comedic tracks very remniscent of Edguy's newer work, "Doomlord" and the cover of Elena Paparizou's "My Number One." The former has an insane Swedish rant in the middle of it (I wish I understood what he's shouting about) that reminds me of Edguy's "Catch of the Century", and the latter is embarassingly catchy, finding it's way onto my single playlist quite a lot.

There are a few filler-ish tracks here, like "Higher on Fire", but these aren't nearly as numerous or as bland as the ones on previous albums, with catchy choruses or riffs to back them up. And there are only two absolutely terrible songs, one of which being the lone ballad "Love Is Blind", which doesn't sound like the other DE ballads, but...worse, actually. Skip button fodder. "Back from the Dead" is just abominal, and I'm not sure how or why the band made a song this bad. It might be an attempt to be epic, but it fails horribly. Is this like some sort of sign that Dream Evil automatically suck when they try new things? I'm glad they didn't experiment too much on the other songs.

The musicianship here is slightly different from past albums, due to the lack of manic guitar shredding of Gus G. and the skin-pounding fury of Snowy Shaw. New guitarist Markus Black is certainly a formidable force, but his soloing feels more restrained, not as wild and acrobatic as Gus's. But then again, Gus is a prodigy, not many people can match him. Same story for new drummer, Pat Power (dear god, that is fun to say, what a great name). He's rather weak compared to Snowy, but he does an adequate job all the same and there's nothing at all to complain about. Snowy Shaw is a veteran, and not every new drummer will have that level of talent. I'd say both of the new recruits are doing an excellent job thus far, and Dream Evil certainly shows no signs of showing down. Hell, even the lyrics are better this time! This is quite a solid and delightful album, and essential for fans of the band (as it is their best output since the debut). Highly recommended.

Dream Evil - United - 85%

Radagast, November 23rd, 2006

Dream Evil have had a pretty tough time of it over the last couple of years. Founding guitar player Gus G. departed towards the end of 2004 to focus on his own band, Firewind, but was instantly replaced by the unheard of Markus Black, who swiftly won over anyone lucky enough to catch Dream Evil on tour with Saxon. It was over the following year or so that things looked as though they were in danger of falling apart – midway through 2005 Niklas Isfeldt and Peter Stålfors both left under somewhat mysterious circumstances before returning less than a month after their departures were officially announced. After several months of silence from the Dream Evil camp, it was drummer Snowy Shaw's turn to leave, followed by another long period of secrecy from the rest of the band.

In a sudden flurry of activity, they announced Shaw's replacement - the ludicrously-named Pat Power, and the CD under current scrutiny, 'United', was released shortly afterwards. After such a period of upheaval, including the loss of 2 virtuosic musicians and primary songwriters, I have to confess I was unsure of what to expect from Dream Evil. Thankfully, they haven't skipped a beat – listening to this record you would wonder what all the fuss had been about. The songs continue in the fashion of previous Dream Evil releases, and are almost exclusively of the very highest calibre. The choruses are powerful and catchy, the solos are flashy and Niklas' vocals have never sounded better. Indeed, listening to the uncharacteristic screams he pulls off on "Back from the dead", a casual listener would have no idea he had urgent surgery on his throat less than a year earlier. A massively underrated vocalist, Isfeldt is, in my little opinion, one of the absolute best in melodic metal and he takes many of Dream Evil's songs up a level with his fantastic delivery.

In something of a departure from the previous release, the widely-praised 'The book of heavy metal', the speed has been jacked back up to the levels found on the band's first 2 CDs for extended periods. The songs found here tend to shift between uptempo, soaring rockers and mid-paced anthems – in this respect the pacing is probably closest to 'Evilized', a CD I prefer to its somewhat unbalanced successor. Songs such as "Let me out", "Blind evil", and the utterly magnificent "Falling" all tear along at full speed. The latter 2 songs of these 3 both feature fantastic choruses that just demand to be sung – screamed – along with at full volume.

Fans of Dream Evil's more conservative numbers need not fear, however, as songs such the title track and "Kingdom at war" offer considerable mid-paced stomp with massive choruses along the lines of previous efforts such as "The book of heavy metal (March of the metallians)" and "Chosen twice". Indeed, "Higher on fire" is a track very much in the same vein as the previous CD's title track with the chanting choir vocals being almost directly transplanted – unfortunately, the chorus is a little weak and it does not match up to previous efforts by Dream Evil in this style.

In another departure – one I was inwardly hoping for – there are far less songs glorifying heavy metal music. 'The book of heavy metal' was a good offering and the over-the-top cheesiness was something of a breath of fresh air among the sea of deadly serious power metal bands, but had Dream Evil continued repeating this formula for another CD they would have been in danger of becoming a novelty act. Thankfully, we have lots of songs here about sword fighting, being evil and various other more comfortable metal clichés mixed in with songs like the excellent full-speed-ahead opener, "Fire! Battle! In metal!". The tongue-in-cheek tone is still to be found from time to time, however – check out the crazy rant in the middle of "Doomlord" or, God help us, the borderline-insane cover of Eurovision-winning "My number one" that closes the CD.

Snowy Shaw's departure, after monopolising the songwriting on the previous CD, has clearly allowed the remaining band members to get back to what they were doing on their first 2 efforts, with a far greater balance over the songs – while the previous CD started to drag for me after several listens, 'United' is one that feels like it's over before you have had time to catch a breath.

Unfortunately, apart from his excellent and inventive drumming, in Snowy Dream Evil have lost seemingly the only band member able to write a great ballad – "Love is blind" is a bit of a weak point here, more in line with the rather sappy Fredrik Nordström efforts of the first 2 CDs than the beautiful, powerful ballads Snowy contributed to the band's catalogue of songs. It also has to be noted that while the new musicians, Markus and Pat, deserve immense credit for filling the massive void left by their predecessors, they do not quite match up to them as players. Markus is an excellent lead guitarist, but just can't match up to the over-the-top shredding of Gus G. (few can) and Pat's drumming is slightly more 'generic' than the more unconventional work of Shaw.

These, however, are minor complaints against what really is an excellent CD. Dream Evil fans have nothing to worry about approaching what some may eventually come to consider their best release, and fans of catchy, melodic heavy metal will find themselves with an album of the year contender on their hands.

(Originally written for http:www.metalcdratings.com)