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Dragonland - 2004 Starfall



DRAGONLAND - STARFALL (2004, CENTURY MEDIA)
Jonas Heidgert - vocals
Niklas Magnusson - guitars
Olaf Morck - guitars
Elias Holmlid - keyboards
Christer Pedersen - bass
Jesse Lindskog - drums


Background
Dragonland are another of the many Swedish bands populating the progressive metal circuit at present. They are a rare breed, having managed to combine super rich melodies with a full-on sonic assault. Some die-hard heavy-than-thou metal fans dismiss this band as being 'too pop' within the prog metal scene. Well, Dragonland surely aren't Opeth, Children Of Bodom or Dimmu Borgir, but they certainly know how to gate-crash a party. From Gothenberg, this is the bands third album, and they have certainly thrown some sugar over the mix in comparison to their prior two efforts (2001's 'Battle Of The Ivory Plains' and 2002's 'Holy War'). It seems the band have restrained the full-on bludgeon epic metal approach to a mature fantasy-theme based direction instead. They probably needed to do it to stand out from the rest of the pack. 'Starfall' takes on more keyboards this time, and the interplay between guitars and keys is something you take for granted from the good bands within this genre. Think Sonata Arctica, Pagans Mind or a more melodic Rhapsody and you'd be quite some way toward understanding Dragonland.

The Songs
The impressive 'As Madness Took Me' leads us off. The keyboard work is fantastic, the integration with the dual guitars and super-fast drum work a wake up call at the start of the CD. Indeed the title track 'Starfall' could be construed as being their most commercial tune to date. It's not exactly Europe but you get an idea as to what the band could achieve if they went the AOR path. The spoken word intro to 'Calling My Name' is a hoot, the music which follows is fast-paced with a neo-classical emphasis. The perfect 'In Perfect Harmony' has a heavy dose of Pagans Mind in the mix, the chugga-chugga riffs and the mystical vocal evokes lovely memories of that fantastic 'Celestial Entrance' album! Continuing in this vein is 'The Dream Seeker', fast and slow passages populate this track. The band haven't forgotten how to pen an epic based tune. 'The Shores Of Our Land' is one such effort, the Viking theme can be heard in the mix, as well as the female vocals of Johanna Anderson, who has sung with the likes of Dark Tranquility. It's all speed ahead on the tempo-challenged 'The Returning', while the three-part epic 'The Book Of Shadows' weaves a historic tale of ancient Egypt. The three part segment is only ten minutes long, the first an instrumental piece, the second segment is heavier, while the third wouldn't sound out of place on a movie soundtrack. 'Mummy 3' anyone?

In Summary
All in all a good attempt at a changed direction, but this album is not the one to cement their name in lights just yet. I feel they are an album or two away from being a household name in prog metal circles. The band return at the tail end of 2006 with their 'Astronomy' album. Certain to be given a bit of critique, and it will be interesting to see how it stacks up against 'Starfall'. We wait with eager anticipation. However, fans of Pagans Mind and keyboard laced prog metal would do well to get acquainted with Dragonland.

URL: www.dragonland.se

Track Listing:
01 As Madness Took Me
02 Starfall
03 Calling My Name
04 In Perfect Harmony
05 The Dream Seeker
06 The Shores Of Our Land
07 The Returning
08 To The End Of The World
09 The Book Of Shadows Part 1 - A Story Yet Untold
10 The Book Of Shadows Part 2 - The Curse Of Qa'a
11 The Book Of Shadows Part 3 - The Glendora Outbreak
12 Rusty Nails (Jap Bonus)
13 As Madness Took Me (Demo version Jap Bonus)
14 Starfall (Demo version Jap Bonus)

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Comments

#1 | englandashes on March 07 2010 15:59:38
I''m afraid I haven't got the Jap version of this album, as missing out on the excellent cover of Rusty Nail, originally from the best Japanese band ever (?). X Japan, the track appears on probably my favourite album being 'Dahlia'. Managed to hear Dragonland's version on youtube, they also to a good version of Limahl's, 'Never Ending Story', ooooOOOOOooooOOOOooooo!, beats 'woo hoo' (shoutbox link!)

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