Released: 2012, My Kingdom Music
Here is a blast from the past! Drakkar is back! After a ten-year gap the Italians have returned. A decade is a long time and although the band released an EP five years ago and not many people noticed. You have to be a band of the status of AC/DC, or Van Halen to be able to get away with a ten year hiatus between studio albums and hope fans will still a) remember and b) care. Either way I'm glad they are still active.
Earlier this year Drakkar released their fourth full-length studio platter on the My Kingdom Music, which is a bit of an odd fit as the label usually specializes in darker, gothic and doom stuff. I liked the first two Drakkar albums QUEST FOR GLORY ('98) and GEMINI ('00) but their third, RAZORBLADE GOD ('02) left me a bit cold with a change in singers and a change in style. WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES is a bit of a return to form despite a changeover in the rhythm section.
Drakkar still play epic Metal with symphonic touches, nothing as heavy-handed as the various bands called Rhapsody or Fairyland but just enough orchestration, flutes, strings to be an grandiose atmosphere. I especially enjoyed the Gregorian monk chanting and gently lapping waves of the Viking inspired tune, 'At The Flaming Shores Of Heaven.' there is lots of ear candy here.
Lyrically the band tread on familiar ground, epic tales of warriors, battles and lyrics about 'anointing our steel', riding on winds of fury' as so on, great stuff! Drakkar have an odd mix of modern themed lyrics and historically themed lyrics, as if Iron Savior and Hammerfall got mixed together. The vocals of Davide seemed to have improved over time he is clear and powerful and there is some studio trickery where he pans in and out side to side while he rest of the guys keep the glorious and majestic backing vocals rolling along.
The pacing and sequencing seems a bit odd. There are 15 cuts but six of them are instrumentals or bridges pieces featuring acoustic guitar, guitar solos, orchestral stuff, narration and sound effects. The album starts slow with not one but two introductions and doesn't get really going until about four minutes in. To my ears the album got stronger as it progressed.
WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES has a good variation in tone and tempo with many slower, marching parts and several faster double-kick driven numbers like the title track and the strong album closing track, 'New Frontier'. 'We Ride' is likely the highlight for me but all the songs are strong and fully entertaining. This is a welcome return because we all could use more Italian Power Metal in our lives!