Dragonland - _Astronomy_
(Century Media, 2006)
by: Yiannis Stefanis (8 out of 10)
The publicity and support that power metal has been receiving by major labels such as Century Media during these last few years has made it one of the most popular genres of our melodic music. This unfortunately means that people like you and me get exposed to the "music" of numerous "artists" whose only concern is to take advantage of the current trend and raise the figures in their bank accounts. That being the case, one should feel relieved to know that there are a few bands like the Swedish outfit Dragonland who have indeed something good to offer.

I've had the copy of the band's latest release _Astronomy_ sitting on my desk for more than a month now, thinking that I could somehow miraculously manage to avoid having to work on it. Having finished with all the other promos, I decided to give this album a go, and... God was I pleasantly surprised!

It is true that the Swedish sextet is working on musical patterns that were first introduced to us many years ago by artists such as Yngwie J. Malmsteen and were recently popularised by the likes of Angra and Evergrey, but listening closely to this album you will soon realise one thing: that the success behind Dragonland's work lies not only in the way that they manage to incorporate all these different elements in their music, but also in their fearless tendency for musical experimentation.

Apart from the generic-sounding "Contact" and the slightly boring ballad "Too Late for Sorrow", both of which are pretty much comparable with most average modern power metal songs, all remaining compositions are the product of a band whose task was clearly to combine beautiful melodic guitar parts and memorable / catchy refrains with riffs of great heaviness and progressive origin. Jonas Heidgert (vocals) may not be the new Geoff Tate (Queensryche), but having clearly brought forward his hard rock influences gave epic compositions such as the opener "Supernova" an extra flavour and diversity of character.

With rhythmical riffs sounding terribly reminiscent of Evergrey, "Astronomy" is another composition whose beautiful melodic bridges will stick in your mind for a long time. A natural inclination of every power metal outfit is to play fast, so the thrashy riff in the Angra-sounding "Direction: Perfection" should not come as a surprise to any of you. What will indeed raise a few eyebrows is "The Old House in the Hill" trilogy and the equally impressive "The Book of Shadows Part IV: The Scrolls of Geometria Divina" -- the former being the musical canvas where classical music and heavy metal drew colourful impressions, and the latter the perfect soundtrack of an epic film. Finally, do check out how impressive a song like "Antimatter" can be due to the harmonious co-existence of clear and death metal vocals.

I love albums like _Astronomy_ which manage to capture my attention straight away, yet they are very careful in ensuring that some of their most important "secrets" are slowly revealed to me. I can definitely see myself listening to this album in the months to come -- and hopefully the same will happen with _Starfall_, the band's previous release, for which I have only just placed an order online!

Contact: http://www.dragonland.se

(article published 9/1/2007)

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