Dream Evil - The Book Of Heavy Metal

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8226-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:59:00

Dream Evil's third release The Book Of Heavy Metal is chockfull of heavy melodic metal and there's sure to be something for everyone in its mix, especially if you love classic metal. It is an homage and one is sure to find something that tips the hat to some classic riff or another. But, in as much as it is an homage, it still sounds modern enough that it's not dated. And though I thought the whole album was going to be a cheesy homage to metal, exploring all sorts of clich&ecaute;s, it is only the first track that suggests a little cheese, and deliberately so, methinks. And if this quintet weren't such solid players, and didn't have two albums already behind them, the whole idea of homage would look like a band trying to "buy" success by appealing to fans with what has worked. Except, given who is involved, perhaps that wouldn't happen. The who in this case are: the easy-to-listen to, yet powerful vocals of Niklas Isfeldt, Gus G. and Fredrick Nordstrom taking no prisoners on guitars, and the pummeling rhythms coming from Peter Stalfors on bass and Snowy Shaw on drums. And I don't say that lightly or to be clever, that's just how it is.

This is an album that is, in part, inwardly looking. Not deep philosophical examinations of the human condition - although the introspective "Tired" and "The Mirror" come close. No, rather it is looking at the whole classic metal experience, from the humourous homage of the title track to the epic, dramatic "Chosen Twice." The title track opens with a stereotypical yelp of "metal!"? so characteristic of 80s metal? some of 80s metal? and includes lyrics such as "I'd sign a contract with the devil [?] / I'd die to become immortal [?] / Who'd give up all my life to be / In the book of heavy metal?" The second verse: "In life I have no religion / besides the heavy metal gods / wear nothing but black skin tight leather / My skin's clad with metal studs ?" Well, one can see that as humourous, if you view it as having a laugh at the stereotypical image of a metal fan, even as it celebrates the enthusiasm of the very same bands/fans have for the genre. Especially when set against the later track "Chosen Twice," which opens with chiming, shining guitars and takes a more serious look at the stereotypes of the genre. Look at the lyrics and you'd think it'd be a defiant and super-aggressive piece, but instead it actually plays against type, ironically. It's a highly melodic, almost balladic piece that includes epic, angelic choruses. And that's the key to it's irony, as it addresses all those who think all metal fans are devil worshipers, but don't see that there's some tongue-in-cheekiness about it. It's probably the closest they get to prog metal, and then it's only on the fringes, falling somewhere between Rhapsody and classic metal.

Listening to this release, you will think of Dio, Ozzy (especially on "No Way," which posits that rock 'n' roll will never die), Judas Priest, et al. Hard driving metal, it is, with chugging guitars, pounding drums, and booming bass. As with much metal it mixes power with accessibility. Some standout tracks that really catch the ear include the throbbing "Into The Moonlight," full of galloping rhythms, sharp guitar leads and an epic sing-along chorus that will have your fist pumping in the air. Oh, it's not quite anthemic, as the chorus is just a tad too wordy for that - no catchy, punchy phrases - but it's close. No, you'll have to listen to "The Sledge" to get that kind of vocal abuse, as you scream out "rock, rock" to punctuate the chorus lyric of "the sledge of rock." An ode - though not in the classic form of an ode - to rock. It's companion piece is "No Way," which follows. Whereas the first is about the love affair with rock -- metal -- music, this latter piece is about how it will never die. Which might be true, really, if you realize that in the 50s, we had "Rock N' Rock Is Here To Stay" and 50-something years later, here it is. Oh sure, 50s doo-wop is far (battle) cry from heavy metal, but? One won't mistake "No Way" for the 50s chestnut, as here we kick things off with a screaming guitar lead, that leads into some 100 mile an hour churning of guitar, bass, and drums all supporting Isfeldt's Ozzy-like vocals. Some songs are described as high energy? this kicks that on its ass as it peels away like a bullet train going to break the speed of light?

"Let's Make Rock" is an homage to classic Judas Priest, a piece that pulses with the blood of Priest's classic "You've Got Another Thing Coming." We get a similar vibe in "The Mirror," though it opens with a chiming, silvery guitar and shimmering percussion. And you might think of Iron Maiden for just a second or two with the opening guitar notes of "Tired," which otherwise sounds nothing like Maiden, and, in fact, sounds more like Europe. This and the later "Only For The Night" are the two tracks that deal with matters of the heart - the first a look at one's own life, the latter about the ending of a relationship.

I hear the Scorpions most especially in the album's closer, the balladic "Unbreakable Chain" which reminded me of "Still Lovin' You" (from the wildly popular Love At First Sting album). I'm sure that has a lot to do with Isfeldt's accented vocals, as here he sounds a lot like Klaus Meine.

"Crusader's Anthem" might be a little controversial if you read the lyrics too deeply. Of course, in a historical context, we think of the quest that Pope Urban launched at the end of the 11th Century the Crusades. But if you take it with modern spin, some might think that the "tyrant" being mentioned is Sharon. The calls to "burn down Jerusalem" might seem anti-Semitic, though I don't think they are meant to be, but rather symbolic, relating the present to the past. Though it is not the longest track, thematically, it is the biggest, taking on an epic theme, the struggle between "good" and "evil," and does so with epic choruses and a big sound with grand guitar solos and taut drumming. It packs quite a bit in 4-plus minutes, and is one of the musical highlights.

But, we do get the aggressive metal in "M.O.M.," a Manowar (and the like) like piece about taking a stand or rolling over. No anti-war or political statement really, more on a personal level; the acronym stands for "man or mouse." It opens with a riff that recalls Metallica (and "Enter Sandman" specifically) and the chugging heard through out follows on from that, but the vocals, percussion and whole vibe of the piece is far from Metallica. In fact, I thought of a very heavy version of Saga (and yes, I suppose because I was thinking of "Mouse In Maze").

When all is said an done, The Book Of Heavy Metal is a fun yet solid heavy metal release, tapping into all that made classic metal great that brings something new to the genre at the same time.

Review based on promo - released version includes bonus DVD with 60 minutes of footage. Japanese version drops one track and adds two bonus tracks - see listing below.

The Book Of Heavy Metal (March Of The Metallians) (5:25) / Into The Moonlight (4:20) / The Sledge (2:59) / No Way (3:19) / Crusaders' Anthem (4:21) / Let's Make Rock (4:03) / Tired (3:49) / Chosen Twice (4:22) / M.O.M. (3:33) / The Mirror (3:46) / Only For The Night (4:11) / Unbreakable Chain (5:51)

Japanese version doesn't have

Gus G. - lead guitars
Niklas Isfeldt - vocals
Fredrik Nordtröm - rhythm guitars
Peter Stålfors - bass
Snowy Shaw - drums

Dragonslayer (2002)
Evilized (2003)
The Book Of Heavy Metal (2004)
United (2006)
In The Night (2010)
Six (2017)

Gold Medal In Metal (DVD+2CD)(2007)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: August 22nd 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.dreamevil.se
Hits: 1130
Language: english


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