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Ridiculous, but loveable. - 75%

PhantomLord86, March 20th, 2008

(Note: I’m reviewing the Japanese version with the tracks in the “correct” order following the storyline and with the extra track Dragonheart)

Dream Evil’s debut has often been tagged as a ridiculously cheesy, over-the-top bunch of unoriginal, fantasy-driven songs. And while that tag is correct, they have taken this often bad recipe (e.g. Rhapsody) and turned it into something worthy of repeated listens.

Everything that makes the standard power metal album is there: medium to high pitched and lean vocals, mid-heavy guitars, choirs, cheesy keyboards, lots of catchiness and a super clean production. But this album adds one more thing to the overdone formula and it’s its charm. Not the most exact explanation I know, but I can’t find a better one.

Isfeldt’s vocals are very spot on and are a good change among all the Kiske and Kotipelto imitators that plague the genre. He sings mostly in a medium to high pitch and can definitely hit the higher notes without much problem, while he retains the super clean trait. A more poppish voice can be heard in Losing You, track no. 4 in my version, which by the way is an over-cheesy ballad.

The main thing in a metal album is and should always be the guitars, and here the team made of virtuoso Gus G. and the renowned producer Fredrik Nordstrom (who also took up keyboards) is very good. The guitar tone is very spot on and heavy but not over-distorted. To this heaviness also has contributed the slight but hearable down-tuning applied, probably to Drop D or Standard D. The riffs are rather unoriginal but still well executed and these guys definitely know how to write a bunch of songs, the main riffs in “Chasing the Dragon”, “Hail to the King” and “The Prophecy” can prove this by a long shot.
The soloing is handled by Gus G. and, as has been expected of him ever since, is top notch. While not innovative or revolutionary Gus can shred in a neoclassical vein or in a more “classic metal” way, both of which are fast yet catchy.

The last factor remaining here and the one which generates more controversies are the cheese and the funny stuff. The lyrics are on the cheesy side, and tell a typical story about chasing a dragon and fighting for your king etc etc, with the inclusion of “Losing You”, a ballad about losing a girl when going to his trip to kill the dragon. Needless to say, some mozzarella might actually come out of your speakers at this point. Also, for a lesson in cheese, check “Chosen Ones” with its huge choirs and march-like drum beats, while singing about how they are heroes now after killing the dragon and returning home victorious.
The fun is also there, especially in “Heavy Metal in the Night” but mainly in “H.M.J.”, short for Heavy Metal… Jesus. These lyrics are a complete lol, and are a must-read.

There is some filler however, like “Kingdom of the Damned” or the aforementioned “Heavy Metal in the Night” which despite the funny things seems less inspired musically than some of the other tracks. The band shows here and will confirm with later albums that they just can’t produce excellent mid-tempo stuff and should stick to the fast numbers in order to avoid writing complete filler.
Highlights? “The Prophecy” along with “Chasing the Dragon” due to their extreme headbanging qualities.

If you like cheese in your daily metal, get this.