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The album that opened the "classical period" for this group - 90%

CentralAsiaMetalhead, November 24th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Metalism Records (Limited edition)

As a follower of the Holy Dragons (for this is the most successful metal band in my country), but not only that - I really like the fusion of raw and fast, but at the same time technical and melodic material that this band plays, it is exactly the type of music that logically stems from my musical preferences, in which NWoBHM, speed metal, American USPM and German strong power metal are equally mixed, and all in precisely those proportions that make this mixture ideal. But, there is not that completely squeaky and creaky sound that can be heard sometimes from authentic speed / heavy bands of the early and mid 80s, but there is also no that "glamorous" over-produced and smoothed sound that 21st century bands suffer, most often from Italy, Finland, Sweden and (unfortunately) increasingly - Germany. And I am very flattered that this group is my fellow countrymen.

On this album, the band underwent their first big style change, getting rid of the hard-rock component that was clearly auditioned on the band's first four LPs (and the least on the debut). The band's style turned into a very competent mixture of power, heavy and speed metal, without synthesizers and symphonic elements, with a high speed of performance and very fast guitar parts. At the same time, the album contains mid-tempo songs, and even two ballads, one of which is blues-based (here "hello" to the original early style of this band), but even this song does not spoil the album. This album saw the debut of vocalist Holger Komaroff, who is considered by many to be a "classic" for the band. Although this singer had already collaborated with the group at the time when it still bore the name "Axcess", no full-fledged albums of this formation with his vocals have been released. Also, this album was Holger's debut full-length album in any group.

His vocals differed for the better from the previous singer Daniel Throne, whose voice was more "ballad-oriented", with a presentation too phlegmatic for the music of the group. Also, the group changed the language of performance from the original English to Russian, as I understand it, this was due to the conclusion of a contract with the Moscow label "Metalism Records", which at that time was focused exclusively on the domestic Russian market, signed many "one-day" bands. As a result, Holy Dragons, which were too ambitious to be limited to the regional market, were eventually lost to this label eight years later. In my opinion, apart from the re-releases of the legendary Soviet bands such as "Круиз" or "Скорая Помощь", Holy Dragons is the most significant of the bands that have ever been signed to this label.

Nevertheless, "Судный День" (the name is translated as "Jugement Day") has withstood two editions on this label - the initial one, which is now a rarity, with a rather unprepossessing design, and later, with a normal cover art and high-quality printing. The re-release also differs from the original version in the re-mixed sound - the sound here is much denser and better. By the way, I have both versions of this release in my collection. By the way, for those who complain that this release is hard to get - on the Bandcamp page of the band there is a complete collection of albums, including this one, in digital format.

And yet, among the albums of the group with Holger, I would not call this album the strongest. Later albums, in my opinion, are much more interesting and stronger in terms of the level of musical material. Nevertheless, this is a rather interesting album. Comparisons with "Dragonforce", regarding any work of Holy Dragons, which I have met quite often, I consider not the most successful. The common component of course is the speed, which in Holy Dragons can reach hurricane values, but in general - the group is not fixated on purely speedy songs. At the same time, the presentation of music is diametrically opposite. Dragonforce has a sound I would call "Happy", it is rich in keyboards and very soft sounding, almost pop-oriented harmonies. Holy Dragons inherit its sound from more "angry" and uncompromising bands from the 80s, but - what is valuable - without flirting with elements of "brutal" genres. But it should be understood that although in 2002-2003 this album was most likely perceived as a "revelation", now I would recommend starting acquaintance with the band from the later albums, as they seem to me more interesting through the prism of today's time.

Who would I recommend this album to? First of all, metal classic lovers who like classic releases from the 80s, and who are looking for something similar from lesser-known music, but have already hit the "fake eighties" several times. Everything is harmonious here and there is no feeling that they want to deceive you. But one should understand that the language of the lyrics here is not English and be mentally prepared for this. Secondly, for those who wish to expand their musical "geography", for those who are interested in the scene of the Central Asian region and post-Soviet and Eastern European bands. For those who are already familiar with the work of Holy Dragons, I consider this album a must-listen, but I would not classify it among the top 5 most important albums of the band.