Dragonland – The Power Of The Nightstar
Release Date: 14/10/22
Running Time: 01:06:38
Review by Simon Black
Now, when I was in my wilderness years as a journalist, when new bands rarely came across my radar due to a life spent either travelling for work or looking after small children, it came to my notice that my beloved Metal genres had continued to flourish and splinter into a ridiculous number of sub-genres, and that for an aging Metal head of 80’s origins that there was this whole massive area known as Power Metal that I really had not noticed much. Now to be fair, being based in the UK that’s easily done, as it’s a way bigger thing in Europe and most of the bands at the top have only recently bothered starting to make inroads to this awkward little island nation (around the time I emerged from exile in fact). So, I rather through myself into the genre when I realised what I had missed, delighted that there was so much out there.
Three years into doing this writing thing later though, and the challenges of the genre are laid bare. There are thousands of acts out there, most of which are indistinguishable and the hundred of thousands of albums they have churned out between them over the decades too often haven’t really moved the genre along that much. Which is probably why my blood ran cold as I started this one, as with it’s cheesy spoken word introduction complete with overlaid over heavy orchestration setting the scene for a science fiction concept piece of quite lengthy run time, this had all the hallmarks of yet another cookie cutter Power Metal opus, the likes of which we have seen to often before.
The good news is that after a ten year or so break, the band have avoided sounding like one of the many Power Metal acts that have filled the airwaves whilst they’ve been out of the loop. The bad news is that they know sound a lot like many of the Symphonic / Progressive acts that have appeared in the interim.
Now, to be fair, this has a lot going for it. The production is top notch and has a really epic and cinematic quality. There’s also been a lot of thought gone into weaving the story elements with some quite nice reuse of musical refrain to create an arc like feeling to this. The downside is that this is a whopping beast of a record in terms of duration, that’s going to have lost too many people before about three tracks in, which is a damn shame as this is a well-crafted piece that rewards the repeat listener and reflects its long gestation period, but which really, desperately needs a couple of anthemic ‘everyman’ tracks with some punchier song-writing to pull the more casual listener in, even if they do end up sticking out like a sore thumb in the wider context of the whole piece.
To be fair single ‘Flight From Destruction’ tries this and has a great introduction and keyboard and guitar interplayed riff that’s catchy as fuck, but the verse and choruses do not pay off at all, and leave you feeling a little bit let down. In fact, that’s really where the whole record left me, as for veterans of the genre like this I expected stronger song-writing and catchiness to go with all the elements that do work well. Had they done so they would have smashed it out of the park.
‘Flight From Destruction’ Official Video
01. The Awakening
02. A Light in the Dark
03. Flight from Destruction
04. Through Galaxies Endless
05. The Scattering of Darkness
06. A Threat from Beyond the Shadows
08. Celestial Squadron
09. Resurrecting an Ancient Technology
10. The Power of the Nightstar
11. Final Hour
12. Journey’s End
Elias Holmlid – Keyboards
Anders Hammer – Bass
Jonas Heidgert – Vocals
Olof Mörck – Guitars
Jesse Lindskog – Guitars
Johan Nunez – Drums
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