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I tend to think of Dreamtale as one of the finest Finnish power metal bands that many people either haven’t heard of or haven’t taken the time to look into. They don’t cause too much of an uproar – they’ve got their own style of (admittedly fairly light) melodic power metal locked down quite solidly. Now, with World Changed Forever, Dreamtale is truly beginning to corner the market on consistently reliable, high-quality power metal from Finland, though they continue to grow slowly in the shade of the resurrected Stratovarius (a band which they sound very little like).
The big news I was waiting for with this album was: could Dreamtale actually keep singer Erkki Seppänen for a third straight outing? And indeed, after going through three lead singers with their first three albums, the Finns seem to have settled on one frontman. While I don’t care for Erkki’s voice quite as much as backing vocalist and guitarist Rami Keränen (who also provided lead vocals on the band’s debut Beyond Reality – still my favorite release from the band), I am very glad of the stability, and Erkki is no slouch.
Regardless of who’s doing the singing though, every Dreamtale album is quite identifiably the band’s own. To compare Dreamtale’s work to another recent release – let’s use Wisdom’s Judas – the band writes a number of songs that are fairly similar in style, and even uses some recurring melodies. However, on World Changed Forever, the keyboards, while typically a fairly prominent musical element in most Suomi power metal, are even more pronounced – and they’re GOOD here. From the moment that the opening track “Island Of My Heart” kicks off, it’s clear that Akseli Kaasalainen is really coming into his own as a key player, and the band offers him full opportunity to cut loose with high-flying synths, supplemented by some fine textural work.
The other remarkable item on World Changed Forever is the narration – which crops up in a couple of strange places, like the out-of-place voiceovers on “We Have No God” (which is just a strange song – though the vocal and piano breakdown works for me), the bizarre narration at the close of “The Signs Were True”, and the opening discussion of “Back To The Stars”. I don’t really care for sound samples and talking in my music at the best of times, and this does a bit to sully the continuity and enjoyment of the album to me – if only very occasionally. Note that I did not receive lyrics to go with my digital copy, and this album does follow a chronological story – so those wishing to make sense of it will definitely want to procure a CD!
“Tides Of War” is a real standout – with a superb intro and excellent key solo, and “The Signs Were True” boasts the same qualities, plus even greater vocal hooks! “Join The Rain” practically bathes in keys, drenched themselves in a cornucopia of effects – and all working well together. Then there’s the syncopation on “The Heart After Dark”, which kills me every time that it plays, as it’s something that we’ve rarely, if ever, heard from Dreamtale before.
It’s strange. Prior to penning this review, I was thinking that this wasn’t one of the band’s better releases. However, I’ve come to realize while writing this that it is possibly my favorite since the debut, and features a number of classic tracks that have the band’s fingerprints all over them, and yet sound reasonably fresh. The sheer energy of the keyboard work on this album (I CANNOT stress this element enough), really livens up the entire composition, and makes World Changed Forever one of the band’s more outstanding albums, a well-realized expansion on their tried-and-true formula, and a natural extension of and improvement upon the very good Epsilon. Anyone who enjoys Finnish power metal needs to hear this, and any fan of Euro-power owes it to themselves to check this band out. World Changed Forever is not a bad place to start at all, and it proves that Dreamtale is successfully weathering the test of time to better itself.
Original review written for Black Wind Metal
Dreamtale are a peculiar act, plagued with numerous line-up changes over their career. I was interested in their first two releases, and I still spin those albums from time to time, although I lost interest in the band around the release of their album Difference, which I didn't really like and thus stopped caring. When World Changed Forever came out I heard a few good things, and felt it might be time to see how Dreamtale are doing.
I'd say relatively little has changed since their older albums, Dreamtale still play that sugary style of Finnish power metal, clearly taking their cues from the likes of Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, and Nightwish. I'm particularly reminded of earlier Nightwish here on World Changed Forever, with opener "Island Of My Heart" having a distinct Wishmaster vibe to it. Sadly keyboards largely take precedence over the guitars here, and I know this factor can be sore point for many. I can live with it, as the material is energetic and fun, although I would have definitely liked to see a little more than the open chords and pedaled route notes which comprise the majority of the guitar work.
The whole album is ridiculously cheesy and in your face, rainbows and candy canes rammed down your throat; you'd think with song titles like "Tides Of War" and "The Heart After Dark" they would be at least be the slightest bit menacing, but really World Changed Forever could make the happiest of power metal bands wince. At just under an hour, I do think this can get a little bit much, but for the most part I'd be lying if I didn't say the album was enjoyable.
Despite being undeniably fun (almost to the point of hilarity), I will say that the World Changed Forever is hideously derivative. I'll often mention that you'll have heard an album before, but not since Heavenly have I heard such blatant plagiarism. From the aforementioned Nightwish-worshipping album opener "Island Of My Heart", as well as further nods to Nightwish throughout, there are moments strewn across the album that you will swear you've heard from acts such as Stratovarius, Gamma Ray, Freedom Call, and even Finntroll.
Even with its flaws and overt saccharine, I still kind of like this one. The album is hardly going to change the world (ho ho ho) but it's a fun listen. This won't appeal to anyone outside of the power metal circles, but if you have a love for the more syrupy Finnish bands then I'd say World Changed Forever is certainly one to give a few listens. At its worst it will at least give a couple of laughs, and sometimes this kind of happy-go-lucky, keyboard-drenched power metal can be just the order of the day.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
I’m fairly new to Dreamtale. I heard their second album way back when, and it struck me as decent if a bit bland. Their work usually gets pretty good reviews, but I just never got around to checking them out. I’m pretty big on the Stratovarius school of Finnish power metal, so I figured I’d enjoy Dreamtale, but this new album of theirs, World Changed Forever, is seriously just terrible.
I mean, really, guys? This is the best you can do? The best I can say about this album is that there are a few decent moments, mostly when the band decides they want to speed up and do the double-bass runs and trilling guitars that this breed of Europower made famous ten years ago. The generic speedy parts are usually fairly tolerable and can even be pretty good, so it’s a mystery why Dreamtale figured it would be a great idea to dial them down to a very small part of the album. Most of this is really weak midpaced or slow stuff, and while I’m all for bands playing slow…somebody should have stopped these guys and told them they sucked at it. Slow power metal needs charismatic vocals and good riffs that let the music breathe - here we get really stolid parts with dry riffs that are played competently but also sound about as energetic as a passed-out drug addict. The production is competent but not really exciting, and everything sounds rather washed-out and bland.
Singer Erkki Seppänen is just awful, too, with a limited range and soggy, limp-wristed vocal lines that for the most part you will never remember or want to sing along with. Power metal has always had its B-grade singers, and back in the early 2000s, the genre was famous for these sorts of nasally, limited vocalists, but that doesn’t excuse having such weak, un-catchy choruses and such dullard verses. Hell, Timeless Miracle’s singer is awful, but since that band writes hooky vocal lines like they were born to do it, it’s excusable – Dreamtale don’t have that distinction. You can’t tell me a band like this, with like five or six albums, couldn’t have found someone better.
The real nail in the coffin is just the songwriting though, as it just sounds like they didn’t care. There are some folky trills and melodies here, but they don’t really do much besides just sit there. There isn’t really any atmosphere, either – unless you count “wanting to turn off the music” an atmosphere. The band mostly just sounds dead on here. There’s some kind of trite concept story going on, but frankly I don’t care enough to figure out what it is…however, the band doesn’t let you ignore it, as there are several annoying spoken word parts on here – if this were a movie, it would clearly be one of those shitty independent ‘dramas’ you see on Netflix that nobody ever really watches, as the voice acting is about as convincing as your loser brother reading the other parts of a two-person scene you’re trying to practice for theater club.
There are a few good moments like the title track, which has some nice melodies. And “Back to the Stars” is actually a little bit catchy – wow, what a novelty, right, guys? But then you get clunkers like “Tides of War,” the faceless “Join the Rain” and “We Have No God,” which features some embarrassing polka melodies followed by some jaw-droppingly random jazz balladry…clearly the band just didn’t give a crap what they were recording, as this is about as big a slap in the face to the 10 people who actually listen to this band, as you can get.
“Dreamtime” has some pretty good fast parts, but then the band decides they just have to go into more midpaced drudgery – haven’t had enough of that yet, have we? Closer “Destiny’s Chance” is full of cringe-worthy sing-along lullaby melodies. It’s incredibly annoying and lame. Which, to be honest, sums up most of the album…sigh.
Most of this just sucks. There isn’t even much to say about it, beyond the fact that everything is just done poorly. I know these guys probably didn’t have an Earth-shattering budget to record this, and that they worked with what they had, but seriously, this is just bad, plain and simple. This is the kind of thing that just makes non-power metal fans dismiss the genre almost immediately. Even if you have to have some insane craving for generic power metal, this would be substandard. Just skip it.
In their earlier days, Dreamtale stood as one of the most consistent bands to suffer from such massive lineup inconsistencies. Over the past 5 years, their stylistic and qualitative congruity has been matched by a constancy of all members associated that has allowed this project to be viewed as more than a revolving door of session musicians taking their marching orders from guitarist and songwriter Rami Keränen. If there is any divergene to be found in their sound, it has been a slight decrease in ambitiousness after peaking on their sophomore effort "Ocean's Heart", a brilliant concept album with a story that reflected a cold sense of fatalism very unique for the otherwise upbeat character of power metal. It is with the release of their 6th opus "World Changed Forever" that they've returned to the conceptual realm, with 12 songs tied together by a few brief narrative sections between characters, though this time told in a real world context rather than in the high fantasy realm.
In many respects, the song set found on here follows the same basic formula as the rest of this band's back catalog, accenting the keyboards to the same degree as the guitars and having a slightly progressive bent to the songwriting. There is a level of experimentation in tempo switches from time to time that are a bit more adventurous and abrupt than previously, particularly starting on "We Have No God" where the first semblance of the band's Helloween influences really come out. The melodic material follows the doubled keyboard and guitar approach often utilized by Stratovarius, but mixes up the format and doesn't just cook for its full duration. Similar twists and turns can be found on "The Signs Were True" and the album's closest thing to an extended epic "Dreamtime", both only coming off as moderately heavy given the equal standing of the keyboards and guitars, but both ultimately becoming triumphant celebrations once the tempo picks up and the chorus material ensues. The most guitar happy of the speedy songs proves to be "The Heart After Dark", which also has a couple of unexpected rhythmic quirks to it that are heavily reminiscent of Labyrinth and Vision Divine, but at the same time quite reminiscent of early work out of this band and the best of the pack.
There are a few points on this album where things kind of cool off in a metallic sense, not to mention a couple of oddly placed elements that don't seem to fit. The most blatant of the latter is a jazz ballad interlude right square in the middle of the cruising power metal anthem "We Have No God" mentioned previously. It's mercifully short, but it's one of those "What the...?" moments that tended to haunt Kerion's earlier works. The spoken sections between the characters are also a bit cryptic at times, and definitely calls for a visit to the lyrics and album notes for clarification. With regard to the coolness alluded to in the former part of the album, much like with "Phoenix" and "Epsilon" the pacing is a bit uneven at times, as the album is front loaded with mid-paced fanfare that wouldn't do too bad on rock radio, but are fairly predictable and overtly derivative. "Tides Of War" and "Join The Rain" are definitely cut from this grain, and were obvious picks for lead off single releases before the LP hit circulation. However, the ballads on here actually prove to be another high point, as vocalist Erkki Seppänen breathes some serious passion and energy into two otherwise plain sounding slower works in "Destiny's Chance" and the title song "World Changed Forever".
Ultimately Dreamtale has proven yet again that they know what their audience is looking for, and while playing it relatively safe, have managed to introduce a gradual degree of evolution to their sound that might win over a few that weren't taken by the last 2 albums. It has an impressive level of flash and intrigue when lined up alongside some of their fellow Finns of late, at times becoming almost as flashy as Children Of Bodom where keyboard noodling it concerned, though everything is done tastefully and with an eye to keeping things song-oriented rather than overtly shred happy. However, the format here is definitely cut and dry European power metal, so would be listeners with any level of aversion to Stratovarius or old Sonata Arctica need not apply.