Released: 2007, Steamhammer
These warriors of traditional metal debuted with their first album in 2002, PRAYER FOR THE DYING. Their follow up is where I became familiar with them, 2004’s aptly titled, METAL. I found that release to be somewhat bland, suffering from a weak production and rather typical metal compositions with little originality. Now they return with DRAGONHEART, another offering of formulaic classic metal in the vein of classic Judas Priest and Dio.
This time around, the band has taken some strides forward. The production is a lot stronger on this release with thicker and heavier guitars and deeper drums and bass that combine to make this a much more enjoyable listening experience. The vocals are excellently delivered by vocalist Mike Tirelli (Riot/Holy Mother). He cites as influences Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, and David Coverdale, and, to be honest, you could not describe his vocal style any better than to refer to those giants of metal singing. The biggest drawback to this band and their current album, however, is their inability to walk out of the shadows of their idols.
There are some rather memorable tracks presented here that all fans of the aforementioned bands and traditional metal in general will find very satisfying. “Where the Falcons Cry” is an infectiously heavy, melodic, mid-tempo rocker. With a lead guitar doubled by a great harmony introducing “City of Angles,” we find one of the most varied and intriguing songs on the album. Classic bass and clean electric guitar verses, great start-and-stop, heavy pre-choruses, and a great harmony for the chorus that includes passionate singing my Mike Tirelli combine to make this the best song on the album. The album closer, “The Ivory Gates,” a very DIO-influenced composition is epic, with its majestic opening that builds to a fast and heavy number that grows for over six minutes, including a great open chord, acoustic breakdown in the last few minutes. This last song is a great highlight to leave with the listener.
Unfortunately, songs like the title track and “Steelrider,” among others, feel too much like leftovers from late eighties, early nineties Judas Priest. While they are very good at recreating the mood of the classic metal bands they are influenced by, it would be interesting to see them offer something new to the genre as well. Their zeal and passion for this music is clear. The only question for band now is whether or not they can create something original and lasting on future releases.