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Eagleheart - Dreamtherapy - 75%

Radagast, January 30th, 2012

Eagleheart’s debut CD ‘Moment of life’ was a breezy European power metal romp, easy on the ear and surviving its lack of originality through boundless energy and enthusiasm. Things have changed a little for ‘Dreamtherapy’, where it seems the Czech outfit have decided to write a little less automatically and push the envelope somewhat in terms of their development.

Progressive and symphonic metal elements were certainly present on the debut, but rather than being interesting little musical cues and brief diversions, here they are fully integrated into the overall sound of a more mature and in-depth CD.

This naturally means the overtly power metal style they had broken through with has been dialed back a little, with the overall pace lowering accordingly and the arrangements being less streamlined. While it sometimes feels like they have taken a step forward and then another back, the crucial thing is that Eagleheart have retained the core of their overall sound and 'Dreamtherapy' feels ambitious and rewarding rather than overwrought.

The proper opening song, “Shades of nothing” would give the initial impression that it was business as usual, being a lightning-fast power/speed metal cracker, the arpeggiated lead playing setting the song alight (especially on the neck-snapping post-bridge solo) while gang and choir vocals add both aggression and class.

It takes until title track, a full 5 songs later, for Eagleheart to get into top gear again though and the surrounding songs offer far more ventures into less-travelled waters while usually maintaining a steady pace. The symphonic elements are really pushed to the fore on “Taste my pain”, where the quick-fire riffs are replaced with thudding chords that synchronise perfectly with the timed pounding of the bass drums.

Areas like this show how much more of a progressive metal feel there is to the CD overall, but the familiar power metal style is never far away, as the following “Lost in the dead end” shows, the pounding of the progressive sections alternating continuously with short gallops of speed. Significantly, while the speed and immediacy is not always present, the feeling evoked by the music is generally always an upbeat, or at least a hopeful one, meaning the progressive elements never swamp everything else totally.

Key in keeping the CD lively is that the band seem to have filled every gap, with the subtle background keyboards showing the dedication to arranging the songs as massively as possible, while every time there threatens to be a lull a sizzling lead guitar fill seems to burst out of nowhere.

While the monstrous closing track will take home most of the plaudits, the centerpiece to the full thing is the arresting ballad-of-sorts “Nothing remains” and is the one that stays longest in the memory thanks to its cinematic, crystalline piano motif and an absorbing chorus. The vocals of Vojtěch Šimoník were the only clear area in which the band clearly needed some improvement, and while he isn’t quite ready to join the ranks of the metal elite, he definitely has gone to some lengths to improving his performance. The most notable difference is that he always seems to be giving it everything he’s got – not that he was holding back on ‘Moment of life’, but here he seems to be absolutely bursting a gut from start to finish and as result he sounds genuinely commanding.

The culmination of all the styles presented on the CD comes with the triumphant 12-minute closer “Wheel of sorrow”, an astounding voyage through a variety of moods and tempos that builds effectively and with great care before simply exploding into life, in turns galloping and juddering before fading away on a lingering symphonic cascade.

While, from an objective perspective, ‘Dreamtherapy’ is almost certainly an improvement on its predecessor, the old school power metal fan in me in truth does miss some of the more straight-ahead, foot to the floor style of the first CD. If anything is wrong with this follow up it is possibly that just a little of the unbridled joy of the first CD has been lost, but Eagleheart can’t be accused of a lack of commitment. Refusing to stand still, they have obviously worked long and hard at these songs and have gone to some lengths to find a voice of their own.

(Originally written for