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Dragonland - 2006 Astronomy

ARTIST: Dragonland
ALBUM: Astronomy
LABEL: Century Media
SERIAL: 77579-2
YEAR: 2006


LINEUP: Jonas Heidgert - vocals * Nicklas Magnusson - guitars * Olof Morck - guitars * Christer Pedersen - bass * Elias Holmlid - synthesizers * Jesse Lindskog - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Supernova * 02 Cassiopeia * 03 Contact * 04 Astronomy * 05 Anti Matter * 06 The Book Of Shadow Part IV - The Scrolls Of Geometria Divina * 07 Beethovens Nightmare * 08 Too Late For Sorrow * 09 Direction - Perfection *10 The Old House On The Hill: i - A Death In The Family, ii - The Thing In The Cellar, iii - The Ring Of Edward Waldon * 11 Intuition [TNT cover] [Japanese bonus] * 12 The Last Word [Japanese bonus]



A few years ago, I was stunned by Swedish prog metallers Dragonland, and their third effort 'Starfall'. Melodic, commercial, and powerful. Well two years on, these guys have moved into the big league with their new platter 'Astronomy'. The theme loosely touches on cosmic concepts, the album cover showing Nicolaus Copernicus peering out into the black void of space. It may well have cosmic and sci-fi written all over it, but generally the music is as heavy as hell. Big drums, even bigger guitars, well spaced keyboard lines and a smorgasbord of vocal styles depicting the story and lyrics of each song. When listening to 'Astronomy' you can't help but throw comparisons at Norwegian gods Pagans Mind. Why do I say that? Let me tell you why.. Firstly there's the sci-fi/space theme - both bands have explored it intimately. Secondly, there is the engineering skills of Frederik Nordstrom - again both bands share his mixing talent. And thirdly, there are the song structures. Dragonland have obviously sat down and listened to 'Celestial Entrance' more than once to ascertain what made that album an absolute giant among progressive metal releases over recent years. Hearing some of Jonas Heidgert's vocal parts, you hear the change up between angelic highs, mostly his powerful masculine roar, or his deep near 'death metal' growls which prove to be more than illusory given the context of the songs. But again, we've heard it previously with Pagans Mind's Nils Rue operating in similar territory albeit four years ago. Give Dragonland some credit though, 'Astronomy' is varied and different, and isn't stuck in a one-dimensional slam-dunk of melodic metal from go to woe despite its overwhelming heaviness. In some parts, this album reminded me of a soundtrack to a horror movie, in other parts, well founded comparisons to Italians Rhapsody sneak through. The sonic excellence of the album has to be heard to be believed.

The Songs
An operatic beginning welcomes in 'Supernova'. Perhaps not as dramatic an opening as we got with 'As Madness Took Me' (from 'Starfall'), but the dense superstructure of the song could be as heavy as a neutron star! First change up occurs with the acoustic flamenco intro and female vocals to 'Cassiopea', a nice entree before the melodic but musical muscle kicks in. Speed is the order of the day with 'Contact'. Put it this way, if any ET's were to be welcomed to Planet Earth with this sort of metallized bombardment they might retaliate with ray-guns! A highlight for me is the title track 'Astronomy', the musical dexterity amid Heidgert's impressive vocal delivery a winner for me. If infrasound technology is used to dis-assemble atoms at the molecular level, then the Military should seriously consider using the song 'Antimatter' to blast out through a set of giant amplifiers at low amplitude. The phrase 'matter-destroying' brings on new meaning! 'The Book Of Shadows Part IV - The Scrolls Of Geometria Divina' is a soundtrack oriented instrumental which precedes the power-metal/neo classical bombast of 'Beethoven's Nightmare'. The band try their hand at a (power) ballad of sorts with 'Too Late For Sorrow'. The dual female/male vocal tandem works well. Then there's the extreme crunch of 'Direction: Perfection'. It starts out with a hiss and a roar, features some death metal like growls, and then fades away inconspicuously at the end. The three-part segment of 'The Old House On The Hill' again could be soundtrack material. The mainly instrumental composition is full of sound effects (creaky doors, dripping water, footsteps, breathing etc) in amongst the bombastic arrangement. It comes complete with a mind-bending story in the jacket (you can read some of it on their myspace page too). At 14 minutes, this is way better than the 'Book Of Shadows' epica from 'Starfall'.

In Summary
I doubt these guys could be accused of being powder-puff progressive metallers that some skeptics were making them out to be back in 2004 when 'Starfall' was released. The Japanese version when released in December 2006 will contain two bonus tracks including a cover of TNT's 'Intuition'. In the meantime, if there is one album to sign off with in 2006 let it be Dragonland and 'Astronomy'. If space exploration was accompanied by music of this quality then sign me up now. I wanna be the first onboard the Away Mission!!

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#1 | gdazegod on November 11 2011 08:09:27
I actually found out that the female vocals provided to this album were done by Elize Ryd, who now fronts Gothenberg power metal band AMARANTHE, along with guitarist Olof Morck. An amazing new band!

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