Dragonforce - Valley Of The Damned
Italian viking metallers of Drakkar are back in the game with their third studio-recording and on top of that an as good as totally new line-up as well. There's a new member on every position except guitars and drums and with that you can also forget everything you knew about the band regarding their previous sound.
The new man in charge of the vocals has a voice more suitable for thrash/speed metal, the former somewhat Running Wild-influenced riffs are as good as totally absent despite a few exceptions and the musical alignment concerning the guitars are the same as the vocals- more thrash metal than power. All in all this adds up to a sound that differs quite a bit from the standard Italian epic melodic metal although there are such elements present here too.
A basic song on this album goes something like this: a thrashy guitarsound in the beginning and after a while the keyboard and sometimes a choir joins in. The verse continues in a thrashy style and it's not until the choruses we can trace some remnant of the epic melodic stuff. In some of these refrains Dell'Orto for some reason lets his voice go high-pitch and that's a very bad idea and despite that it doesn't sound entirely false, it does more damage than good.
The keyboard arrangements are in some areas very allright but way too much overdone in others. Drakkar's attempts to squeeze in some of the earlier mentioned epic melodic feeling in catchy sing-along refrains can be considered as admireable and necessary if they want to continue to stay in the power metal genre, but the succesful ones are too few. Some beginnings, refrains and interludes work quite okay though and the choice to make a cover of Magnum's classic Kingdom of Madness was a very nice touch too, but then my praise stops.
I have to say that this wasn't a very convincing album although I at first had my hopes up since the line-up change and especially in the vocal-department. But after having heard this album many times now I have to say that commentaries like "bombastic", "mature songwriting" and "extraordinary vocals" etc, are more wishful thinking than the real life version of the truth. The album also suffers from the ever so common problem with bands from the land of pizza and wine: the production, which also contributes to the low mark I'm about to set.
So despite from a few highlights, this blend of thrash and epic melodic metal doesn't put much of a smile on my face and Italy's got way better bands to offer. Check it out if you're into the thrash thing and want to listen to an Italian band that doesn't follow the more traditional country main stream. Myself and I'm sure many others will agree to the fact that Razorblade God is not worth breaking the piggy bank for. With this release I'm afraid that the drakkar is more sinking than staying afloat and conquering the seas.