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Could And Should Be Better... - 74%

The_Boss, July 9th, 2007

Earlier this year I was in a time where I had an enormous craving for speed metal. I searched the Archives for bands of the speed metal ilk, but preferably with power metal influences as well. I can be a sucker for ‘cheesy’ bands and I happened to see the name Holy Dragons and checked a couple reviews stating this to be amazing power metal with speed metal tendencies so I searched for albums. And I searched…and kept searching; apparently this is a hard band to come across because of their small homeland of Kazakhstan and their label blah blah… but after a while of searching I was able to find their debut Dragon Steel and was elated to see this. I was expecting good things…and when I listened finally I was slightly disappointed. This was obviously a mediocre album with fairly bad production that brought nothing new to the metal scene.

The vocals were the first thing I noticed, the vocalist sucks on a level I didn’t know existed. I cut him slack because of his thick accent and not being able to pronounce English to well but it seems like he hasn’t had any vocal training whatsoever as if this was a garage band or something. He sings primarily in low tone that is sometimes indecipherable and occasionally in some songs he tries to sing high falsetto a la Rob Halford or Tim Owens and it’s simply excruciating.

Everything else seems to fall in place fairly well, the drums are typical heavy/speed metal combo of keeping a nice rhythm and playing it safe by not trying anything out of the ordinary. The drummer plays it safe and does a nice job with it, he’s talented and seems like he could fit in well with a thrash band like Sabbat. There are some heavy, thick baselines throughout this album that are very catchy and powerful; it takes the approach of being another component of the rhythm section it seems – not in every song mind you. It’s fairly inconsistent but when it can be really audible and go along well. Now the best part of this album/band is obviously the guitars. They can switch from heavy riffs that tear you apart to melodic leads that mold into a killer solo. I swear these guitarists are very talented and it’s a shame their location and status keeps them back. The riffs are typically similar and can be fairly repetitive at times but there is a solo in every song that usually makes up for the lack of originality in the sometimes stale riffs. I don’t mean to imply that the riffs are boring, it would just be nice to see some variety that changes pace or things up. The solos are well done and often save a rather boring song into a headbanger. Check out Mr. Fat Rat!

This album is clearly very inconsistent and often lacks variety but at the same time makes up for it with some killer songs. The vocals are the weakest part of this band, he can’t hit high notes, he’s very amateurish and should be fired. There is a pointless introduction and other various parts of songs that should be cut out but aren’t. The ballads are horrendous because it contains more singing and less speed. If Holy Dragons stuck to balls out speed metal with a better vocalist and updated production this would clearly be a much more famous band and hopefully get the guitarists the attention they deserve. This album is recommended for those who enjoy old school heavy speed, if you can get past the vocals and iffy production it’s definitely a winner instrument wise. I’d like to even see them do an all speed metal instrumental album. Now that would be frickin’ good.