Released: 2011, AFM Records
Reviewer: Theis Rytoft
THE GREY BANNER starts off with an instrumental piece that immediately sets the epic mood for this fantasy tale! I mean, it could be a score for a movie! But on the other hand; many bands produce stuff like that. However, I would say this is, nonetheless, at a very good level.
The songs progresses well into the next; “Shadow of the Mithril Mountains” which is characterized by its beautiful mix of bombastic parts and more slow aesthetic ones. However, I am a bit in doubt whether I find the vocal to be on the same level. But it sounds good.
A track such as “A Thousand White Towers” is very well constructed and features a vast array of different musical combinations. Here, the vocalist performs very well and gives the song that extra edge! There is also a short passages where guitar riffs moves to the front of the sound picture; nice!
“Fire and Brimstone” is a bit heavier and darker with even more focus on the guitar and bass. It has a lot of the qualities from the previous but I find it a bit more appealing because of its construction: It suddenly warps into a peaceful passage and then continues the earlier riff-based sound. It also features another vocal at brief times which fits very well!
Generally THE GREY BANNER features a very diverse sound with a lot of elements. Some songs are more power metal based with a fast instrumental pace leading the vocalist as in “The Black Mare”, while others are more mid-paced with symphonic elements such as “Lady of Goldenwood” has. However, throughout most of the album you will experience a faster setting.
What Dragonland has tried to do, I presume, is to create an epic score-line and majestic musical compositions that should take the listener far, far away. It also features speaking (female) as known from Rhapsody (Of Fire) and several guest appearances. Some of these fill out “roles” in the overall story through their speaking/singing which is excellent.
At first I was a bit overwhelmed and the first few tracks didn’t convince me much. However, as I had reached the 3-5 track I really started appreciating this release. I know a bit of Dragonland’s earlier stuff and while not being that well-versed in their discography, I will state that this might very well be their strongest release!
Side-note: Unfortunately I don’t, as a reviewer, get lyrics so I don’t know much about “the story” but knowing where the band comes from, I am certain that the lyrics are of similar good quality.