Reviewed: January 2005
Released: 2004, Century Media
Dragonland have been slowly gaining recognition, much of it stemming from their days on the Power Metal charts at the now defunct mp3.com and their campy but very fun cover of \”The Neverending Story\”. This is the third release from the Swedes, and after their amazing concept-based second album HOLY WAR I had high hopes for STARFALL.
Unfortunately, it was not met. In full, anyways. They have decided to take a less symphonic, less fantasy based direction and move their keyboards into an area of synthesized bloops and lyrical themes of a deeply personal nature. At many times, STARFALL can be described as emo-power metal with it\’s lyrical content and adoption of the start/stop breakdowns of modern groups such as Atreyu and Bleeding Through. The power metal still remains, don\’t get me wrong, it\’s just been tempered with enough of the MTV2 Headbangers Ball style of emo-core that it\’s a bit hard to swallow some times. The musicianship is still dead on, but gone are the great leads, the keyboard/guitar interplay, and the overall feeling of might. Instead opting to take some influence from Clayman-era In Flames and Dark Tranquility in it\’s breakdowns and bottom end riffery.
The songwriting is disappointing as well, the vocals are one dimensional but strong and the overtly \”electronic\” keyboards can get a bit overdone sometimes. Only one song really manages to stick in your head, and they wisely put that on the front of the album \”As Madness Took Me\”. Eventually one song just starts to blend into the next and you forget to even pay attention anymore, as the songs all begin to sound the same. If they had continued in the symphonic power metal direction they were starting to show some very real promise in with HOLY WAR then they could have pounded out an album for the ages. Instead, for whatever reasons, decided to adopt a more modern emo-influenced sound with STARFALL and the results are uninteresting. At least I still have my worn copy of HOLY WAR to listen to.
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