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Dragonhammer - Time For Expiation

=Staff's pick

Ancient Voice
Eternal Sinner*
Fear Of A Child
The Pages I Never Wrote
Free Land*
Blind Justice*
Time For Expiation

Genre Power Metal
Max Aguzzi
Tracks 9
Max Aguzzi
Runningtime 43 Min.
Label Scarlet Records
Gae Amodio
Release 14 April 2004
Raf Condemi
Country Italy
Alex Valdambrini
Similar artists Vision Divine, Sonata Arctica, Edguy

This, the second album from the Italian quartet Dragonhammer can be seen as a hybrid between Rhapsody's epic Italian speeded powermetal added with the music of Vision Divine and more classic heavy power metal like Edguy, and perhaps Finnish fast and melodic power metal. An equal amount of the Dragonhammer music is gathered with the metal from Germany and the power from Italy and melody from the land of the thousand lakes. Dragonhammer tries to stay away from the epic metal typical for Italy and succeed rather well since they have a more direct approach but the vocals from Max Aguzzi cause that you do that connection anyway. His voice sounds like he is trained with opera lessons as when he grabs hold of all of what he got you can hear the operatic tendencies, he's got serious power in his pipes.

Time For Expiation starts fast and mighty after the opening intro with Eternal Sinner, driven by the fast and hard-hitting drums and with a simple refrain. It is straight forward power metal with an epic feeling from the vocals with a break that is followed by a keyboard solo, that reminds some of Rhapsody but that are more or less the only similarities in that song that actually is the only real highlight on the album. The track Believe starts with a melody that could be compared with Sonata Arctica and continues in the same style as the Finns would have done, but if this track had been on an album with Sonata it would have been one of the less good tracks, while on Time For Expiation it is one of the better, so there's the difference.
With the ballad The Pages I Never Wrote you must be deaf to not hear that Dragonhammer is from Italy. A ballad filled with Italian romanticism and falls under the category with far to sweet and sleazy ballads that appeals to my taste even if you can hear a quick growl towards the progressive break in the song. Apart from Eternal Sinner, I hold Free Land as one the better tracks on the album, Free Land is a mid-tempo track that floats on driven by the riffing guitars and the drum rhythm with an Angra like piano and guitar solo break, more of this quality and it would have been much better.

Unfortunately Dragonhammer is struggling hard and trying to much with weak ideas, when the songs work it is really good but those parts are too few and only comes in bits and pieces within the tracks. The music is of the kind that has been heard before and to make a good album as a newcomer in this genre you need to bring along something extra with you, and Dragonhammer do not do that even though it is their second album. A little extra that they do got is that Max Aguzzi with his vocals is constantly trying to hard and always holding notes longer than necessary adding to much of power instead of feeling. He has a really good voice but should try and not giving it all at all times, and as the tradition invites with Italian bands he has not the best pronunciations as well.

Even though it is more of a Northern European sound than what one could expect from an Italian band it is impossible to not hear that they are from an Mediterranean country, especially when they got speed and melodies in the way they have. And to their advantage you must say that they are simply not trying their brains out to become epic and to exaggerated symphonic. More basic power and speed, a melodic power metal with similarities towards Angra can be heard as well. That they are capable of handling their instruments is obvious with many good instrumental parts in the songs but it is the material in general that is too weak for Dragonhammer to succeed in my ears. Give this band some good songs to work with and they will become a great band, but as it is now they have a long way left to go.

See also review of: The Blood Of The Dragon






5 chalices of 10 - Thomas

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