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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!