Dream Evil

In The Night

Written by: GR on 11/01/2010 01:00:32

There are some great things about reviewing albums here on Rockfreaks. As has been said elsewhere, one of them is discovering new bands that may have otherwise passed you by. Similarly is getting to hear albums by established artists who you had previously not listened to. Another is having access to the new album by a band whose back catalogue is resting firmly in your record collection already and who have provided consistent listening enjoyment with each release - such is the case here. Dream Evil were formed just before the millennium by famed producer Fredrik Nordström (Arch Enemy, In Flames, Dimmu Borgir etc.) and guitar-hero-in-the-making Gus G (Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne) - just over ten years and several guitar players later, we are presented with "In The Night", the band's fifth studio album continuing their "pure M.E.T.A.L. crusade!".

As might be obvious, you know what you're getting with Dream Evil - they've spent the last decade putting out records of straight-ahead melodic heavy/power metal made up of big riffs, even bigger choruses, shredding solos, soaring vocals and cheesy/tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Unsurprisingly from a band whose most well-known song is called "The Book of Heavy Metal", things aren't about to change or progress much and "In The Night" follows the tried and tested Dream Evil formula. Luckily it happens to be a formula that - while offering nothing original - is capable of heavy metal alchemy more often than not. I first heard of Dream Evil some five or so years ago, when they were featured in an issue of Classic Rock magazine with an over-the-top promo photo and band profile. Ever since laying eyes on that somewhat ridiculous but ultimately metal piece, I have been a convert to the band's cause of old-school influenced, chest-thumping, head-banging metalness. Sure, the band sings about things like dragons and the majesty of heavy metal itself, but it's with a balance between a lack of irony and sense of fun. They're no parody merchants like the opinion-splitting Steel Panther, yet they're not serious to the point of embarrassment either. I guess they're kind of like Manowar, but with a sense of humour and self-awareness.

In that magazine article Nordström professed Dream Evil's plan was to, despite their undoubted playing abilities, "keep things simple" and they have certainly stuck to that principle to this day. The songs on "In The Night" are, unsurprisingly, based around a main riff and chorus line, with verses and solos slotted between in the standard metal (and most other genres) fashion. I bring this up as some people have seen fit to tag Dream Evil as 'progressive metal' on Last.fm - something they most definitely are not. The fact I've mentioned the song structures are simple is not an indicator of the music being boring in any way - far from it. Album opener "Immortal" doesn't take long in demonstrating the band's knack of writing a catchy riff and hugely memorable chorus, along with the power of leather-lunged vocalist Niklas Isfeldt. It's his vocals that really make the Dream Evil sound - not only possessing the technical ability of a top metal singer but also having a distinctive voice to set the band part from their peers. The album continues just as strongly with the title track (containing such pure stilton as "Bounded by leather/Surrounded by chains/Metal forever/We rise through the flames") and the gloriously unsubtle "Bang Your Head", on which Isfeldt opens up his pipes and sounds very akin to the mighty Rob Halford at his most metal. This is one of my favourite tracks and nicely highlights the band's blending of classic influences like Priest and a more modern power metal tone.

The strong, catchy song-writing is maintained through most of the record as the Swedish five-some flex their highly polished metal muscles. Admittedly, naming one song "The Ballad" steps a bit too far towards parody for my liking, and isn't helped by having lyrics that rhyme 'steel' with 'sex appeal' (even Manowar would struggle to get away with that) but it still manages to be a lighter-waving tune of greater quality than a lot of the power metal balladeering out there. Just as you think the tail end of the album might peter out, "In the Fires of the Sun" keeps the quality high, reminding me of some of the material on Bruce Dickinson's last solo album, "Tyranny of Souls". The penultimate "Kill, Burn, Be Evil" comes along with an absolutely huge chorus (I'm sure you can guess the lyrics) that is guaranteed to sound brilliant in a live setting and has you singing along straight away. Final track "The Unchosen One" throws a slight curveball by introducing orchestration to the mix, making for a very power metal sound, which seems rather odd given the lack of it elsewhere on the album. It's still a decent song but would have been better positioned near the middle of the album.

As already mentioned, this is very much a Dream Evil album - but so much so that some of the songs do end up feeling very generic just in terms of the band's own back catalogue, let alone the genre as a whole. However, those songs ("On The Wind" and "Mean Machine" being the main culprits) are still enjoyable listening, as Dream Evil somehow have enough charm and spark to carry them off. At the end of the day, your general opinion of this album is going to be pretty much the same as of any previous Dream Evil album. Nothing has changed and while I'm sure some will disagree with a band that lacks originality and depth being scored so highly, the more I listen to "In The Night", the more I can't escape the fact that it's a strong effort. It's not going to convert the detractors, and might only leave some casual listeners mildly impressed, but given our grading guidelines, fans of the genre should be checking this out and existing fans of the band heading towards the pre-order option of their preferred online merchant.


Download: Bang Your Head; Kill, Burn, Be Evil; In The Night
For the fans of: Primal Fear, Firewind, Judas Priest
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 25.01.2010
Century Media

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