The Book Of Heavy Metal
Dream Evil - The Book Of Heavy Metal 2004 Century Media Records Reviewed by: Jonah Haze
|Track Listing1. The Book of Heavy Metal (March of the Metallions)|
2. Into the Moonlight
3. The Sledge
4. No Way
5. Crusader's Anthem
6. Let's Make Rock
8. Chosed Twice
10. The Mirror
11. Only For the Night
12. Unbreakable Chain
To quote the almighty and all knowing Spinal Tap, "there is a fine line between clever and stupid", and Dream Evil is that line my children. In any other context and in any other band DE's humor would be lost on the railrats but this European supergroup has convincingly released one of the most commercially appealing heavy metal albums in years. The Book of Heavy Metal is their third album (and obviously finest) in three years and with five extraordinary musicians contributing this metalhead can only pray that the book never closes. From the genius knob turning of Fredrik Nordstrom (too many great accomplishments to mention) to the masterful shredding of young Grecian Gus G. (Firewind) to the underrated beautifully passionate vocals of Niklas Isfeldt (original vocalist for Hammerfall) to the heavy handed hell bass of Peter Stalfors (X-Cult) and the heroic flawless thunder of Snowy Shaw (who needs no introduction) this is a band that takes no prisoners and apolgizes for nothing. Rich in unforgettable melodies and production, TBOHM has raised the bar within this new wave of European power metal and is easily the best of its kind this side of 2004. Fans of Fredrik Nordstrum alone will eat this up.
This is yet another band like Germany's Mob Rules that initally confused and upset me when I first saw their name. Until I got acquainted with the music I was pissed with the blatant borrowing of Ronnie James Dio's album titles for band names. I mean, what's next, a Dio tribute band featuring actual elfs? Now that would be something. And the more I think about it I am sincerely hoping these little tributes add up and eventually de-throne Ozzy and make room for the real God of Metal, Ronnie Fuckin' James Dio.
Anyway, I do want to stay off track for a moment and thank Hammerfall for their stupid decision to can Isfeldt in favor of Cans because Dream Evil is a more original, aggressive and heavier band that requires the intense vocal strength and accuracy of Niklas. Joaquim Cans sounds good on record but in my humble opinion his head voice takes over too much on the high notes resulting in a weak thin tone. Isfeldt rather delivers with the tone and the melody of a metal god and the difference tween these two is the difference between mice and men.
The Book of Heavy Metal hits the ground running with the insanely catchy title track courtesy of Mr. Snowy Shaw who has yet to ever let me down in his playing and songwriting and production capacities. Listening to the lyrics specifically in this song, I could absolutely relate as I know many others could as well, we would give up all our lives to be in the Book of Heavy Metal. Into the Moonlight opens wide up with another hooky chorus and The Sledge pounds ferociously away and maintains the momentum of pure power and energy as we enter the anthemic stylings of No Way. No Way features an awesome vocal bridge where guest vocalist Andy Alkman channels the spirit of Ozzy and sets up Isfeldt for the knockdown chorus. Awesome. Crusader's Anthem loses a bit of the straight ahead edge and reminds us that this is a European band unafraid to put their historic and classical influences on display, while Let's Make Rock punches us right back to the out of the gate anthems DE has been slowly perfecting since their 2002 debut Dragonslayer. Moving onto the second half of the CD, Tired wakes us up with more straight ahead ass kicking flair. Chosen Twice sequels The Chosen Ones (from the aforementioned debut) and incorporates again a bit of their natural European flavor with strings and a choir chorus. Staying consistent as heavy hitters this line up of songs never lets up on the listener. M.O.M. or (Man or Mouse), which some may find too cheesy for their taste, pun obvious, still simply rocks your world and there is nothing you can say about that. Talk to Snowy if you dare with your criticisms. He means every word of it and only proves his point when these weakling American nu-metal bands (Dogsnack, Slipsnot, Kornhole, Limp Bizcute, etc.) attempt at being men. The Mirror reflects on soul searching and Only For the Night chimes in with yet more well thought out and possibly Scorpions influenced melodies and could stand radio ready if American radio stations had the balls to play new music that people actually want to hear. Silencing us with Unbreakable Chain, the disc closes with a wonderfully constructed ballad that again proves the musical ambition of this band.
This CD has been released in two forms, one digipak with a bonus DVD and the other without. The couple extra bucks was of no concern for the bonus DVD version as I knew I would be entertained. It features 60 minutes of just about flawless live performances, obligitory behind the scenes drinking and joking and footage from the studio sessions for TBOHM which compliments the CD very well. Fans of the genre who have yet to lend their ears are doing themselves no favors by waiting and fans of Dream Evil already will now know their hard earned green will be well spent the minute this masterpiece fades out of the darkness and into their speakers. This is a classic effort in a new age.
I have tried to discern who if anyone individually would be responsible for the immaculate muscle and supernatural spirit of Dream Evil but I have decided it is indeed the perfect example of a group effort. Every member had a hand in everything from the conception, to the writing and the production of this magnum opus. Kids, a Supergroup is Dream Evil, not Velvet Revolver.
So bravo boys, for topping yourselves, for kicking Hammerfall's ass and for forging your names into the Book of Heavy Metal whether anyone likes it or not.
I give this album 10 falling screwdrivers out of 10. A must have if you even think you are metal.
Links: www.dreamevil.se, www.centurymedia.com
--Jonah Haze 08.24.04