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Dionysus - Anima Mundi

=Staff's pick

Bringer Of War
Anima Mundi*
Heart Is Crying
Eyes Of The World*
March For Freedom*
Closer To The Sun*
Forever More
Paradise Land

Genre Melodic Power Metal
Olaf Hayer
Tracks 10
Johnny Öhlin
Runningtime 47 Min.
Label AFM Records
Nobby Noberg
Release 19 Jan. 2004
Ronny Milianowicz
Country Sweden
Kaspar Dahlqvist
Similar artists At Vance, Majestic, Stratovarius, Luca Turilli

Swedish Dionysus with vocalist and frontman Olaf Hayer (you know... also in Luca Turilli, Treasure Seeker and Lord Byron) also consists of members that can be found in other metal constellations as well. Drummer Milianowicz also handles the sticks in Sinergy, keyboarder Dahlqvist is currently an employee of Stormwind and used to be in Malmsteen, and axeman Öhlin and bass player Noberg have positions in the line up of Nation. Anyway, here this five headed piece makes a second attempt to attract followers across the globe with their sophomore album Anima Mundi (Latin for soul of the world). Despite promised good and solid power metal that would take the world by storm, their debut Sign of Truth fell pretty flat on its face and virtually failed to accomplish what such bold promotion suggested was visible in the band's crystal ball. Luckily for Dionysus their latest issue stands up more strongly when placed in comparison to that first achievement and is a considerably more enjoyable affair.

Hayers prowess is well documented on Luca Turilli's two studio outputs and he definitely comes true here too with his smooth and soaring melodic distinctive features. Dionysus also make more use of his entire register- and especially mid range ones- but exactly like with the debut I think that his talents still are better preserved when under Turilli's guiding eye. Nevertheless, his exertions bring feeling and atmosphere to the songs and his efforts also inject much of both soul and passion that lasts all across the finish line.

Besides Hayer's contributions the other criterion of this band's sonical deliveries is absolutely the European melodic power metal with the strong guitar/keyboard colaborating neoclassic influences. Öhlin's 6-string maneuvering is on many occations very passionate and quite a few real inventive licks, riffs and fresh solos can be found throughout. Keyboarder Dahlqvist also throws in his share of interesting licks and some nice interchanges between these two instruments create some cool vibrant moments. Together with Hayer's vocals this entire sound landscape can be said to be a mixture of above all At Vance, Majestic and Luca Turilli but there's still enough individuality to last and also big portions of actual finesse.

Many choruses and bridges reach very infectious levels and especially in the cases when Hayer is supported by backing vocals the whole deal escalades to very pleasant heights. Many tracks are exposed by such enjoyable installments and have a very catchy singalong feel. The somewhat Manowar inspired metal anthem March of Freedom is a good tune of epic structure and besides not being the best composition on this disc, it will most certainly be a seriously huge crowd pleaser in a live situation. Other outings that put this affair in its prime are the tunes of more rapid character like the opening act Divine, the title track (which is available for a free download on the band's official site), Eyes of the World and Closer to the Sun. These must be considered to be the most memorable aces in the deck but the others (except the quite boring ballad Forever More) don't disappoint that much either.

To Dionysus' disadvantage though I am of the opinion that they musically still feel a bit one-dimensional and disregarding of the fact that the tracks aren't too indistinguishable from one another there's still this tiny prevailing feeling of having heard the same musical ideas almost from the start. Basically it's a bit too much of that use and re-use way of composing and the concept feels a bit too monotonous when the disc has stopped rotating. Neoclassic metal in normal doses is also something easily digested for me but I think that Dionysus have overstated that amount a little and delivered a bit too strong an injection for my personal taste. And as a general aspect Dionysus might even need to get a little more flesh on their bones in shape of fattening inputs like heavier guitars and a more direct and powerful approach to really hit it off.

Left out of acocount that those factors don't exactly help to fully capture my interest, this Dionysus effort is still much more of a masterpiece than a "disasterpiece" mainly due to Hayer's voice combined with a better songwriting. For adherents of neoclassic melodic power metal and bands that favour this European melodic style- like then again At Vance, Eduy, Majestic, Stratovarius and Luca Turilli- this album possesses a certain commercial appeal, but how true that turns out to be in the end I leave entirely up to you readers and possible consumers. With so many bands bangning on the doors that lead to the upper regions of the metal scene Dionysus definitely don't stand alone in their quest of passing through that golden entrance. But with Anima Mundi the foundations of the gates start to shake much more forcefully than what its way paler predecessor managed. With a development that proceeds at this rate the next album just might prove to be that thundering battering ram Dionysus need to completely break through and enter the metal realms of much nobler value.

See also review of: Sign Of Truth






7 chalices of 10 - Mat

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