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The Battle of the Ivory Plains
Released: 2001, Black Lotus Records
When this Cd showed up in my mailbox I was slightly surprised. It had come all the way from Greece. I have gotten many CDs from lots of different places but a package from Greece was a first for me. Even though these guys are signed to a label out of Greece they come from one of Europe’s metal hotbeds, Sweden. And we all know that Sweden is exploding with powermetal bands and Dragonland (of course you should have already been able to tell by the moniker) fit right in with the powermetal tide. Formed in 1999 by guitarist Nicklas Magnussen and vocalist Jonas Heidgert they started writing songs and recruited their friends Daniel Kvist: guitar and Christer Pederson: bass to join them. Unable to find a drummer Jonas took on this duty also and in the fall of 2000 the band added keyboardist Elias Holmlid. Andy LaRoque of King Diamond produced this CD and immediately tapped Holmlid to tour with King in 2001. In the meantime Kvist has been replaced by Olof Morck on guitar and the lineup has solidified.
I don’t know what it is but when it comes to comparing bands to each other I have a hard time. So I ain’t really going to start now. Lets just say first that Dragonland take a bit from here and there and everywhere to make a sound that is very interesting, not innovative by any means, but just good powermetal. The disc opens with the required intro "Dragondawn" and then kicks right into "Strorming Across Heaven" a nice speedy number. Dragonland change gears quickly with "A Last Farewell". The song has a nice dynamic as it incorporates the female vocals of Ingmarie Juliusson in a song about the anguish of separation brought on by the unfairness of life. "Ride For Glory" kicks in next as it alternates from a galloper to a all out speedfest. The title track contains some great guitar and keyboard solos which showcase why keysman Holmlid was picked up by King Diamond. The CD closes with the bookend piece to the opener with "Dragondawn".
Getting Andy Laroque to produce your CD is a big feather in the cap of any band. Especially one as young as Dragonland. Stealing their keyboard player (at least temporarily) is another note worthy of mention. Dragonland are a band in search of their sound. Not that they sound like anyone else but it seems like they are feeling their way around and are only a step away from creating something that could push them to the top of the pack. As it is, this CD is a great listen and with the interesting written intros to each song courtesy of Magnussen, a damn good way to pass an hour. http://fade.to/dragonland
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