Dream Evil – The Book of Heavy Metal (2004) – Review

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Now I finally know where Ms. Slayes of Unleash The Archers got the famous metal scream from on Time Stands Still at the beginning of Test The Metal. Dream Evil invented it first.

On their 3rd full-length album The Book of Heavy Metal that escaped into nature back in 2004. And they had the crunch it takes to produce some crystal clear and steely metal back then that – in all its somewhat cheesy splendor – will still please the fan crowd of today. 

Given their somewhat Dio-esque soaring style, I always wondered if the band name had anything to do with it. And sure as hell, the band was indeed named after Dio’s stellar album Dream Evil of 1987. Reason being that the previously suggested name Dragonslayer did not sit well with Century Media Records. Yet, ultimately the first album got stuck with this name.

Now, Dream Evil saddles you with an almost straight mix of Judas Priest, Dio, Iron Maiden, a hint of Hammerfall, and Black Sabbath. And sometimes they come across as the evil brother of Ghost Avenue.

All this name-calling shows that we definitely deal with Heavy Metal. But – more importantly – we got ourselves a concoction that, whilst powerful, still lacks a certain variety and has got the reek of a tribute band like there is no tomorrow. But not a tribute to a specific band, it is a tribute to a style, a genre if you will.

And this may very well have been the main reason of existence of this album from the outset. Because in an already overloaded genre on a downward spiral, a band somehow needs to stand out to be noticed. And they pulled out the stops and used every hook, shred, and technique at their disposal to get there. However, exactly this practice also consists of the major weak point of the album: This sense of déjà-vu, like being haunted by the past.

Now, all this out of the way finally, the technical prowess back in 2004 was outstanding. Specifically, the soaring solos and outstanding riffing of Gus G are remarkable, to say the least. With this, you will also forgive them the somewhat clicky drum work that is prevalent throughout the tracklist. With the Book, the band finally got around their former run-of-the-mill quality, moving into much more mature territory.

And tribute band or not, Dream Evil are gunning for metal, not in an easy and funny way. But in really refined and exquisitely difficult contributions to their metal universe. This already shows in the title track The Book Of Heavy Metal (March Of The Metallians) sending the forces of metal marching forward with a crunch. Niklas Isfeldt comes off screaming metal straight from the beginning. And he does not let up until the end of the track.

Now, the first track already appears to be the ‘pièce de résistance’ as we say in French. And this is a pity, as usually, nothing bodes well, if the best track is the first track, too.

Luckily you will find some more good stuff on this decidedly mixed bag of a record. For instance the brilliant Into the Moon, Crusader’s Anthem, The Mirror, or Tired. Loads of crunching about the metal countryside with gusto, putting Isfeldt‘s prowess to the forefront.

The record also features an aspartame-laden ballad. Albeit nothing that rocked me off my chair. Unbreakable Chain really sounds like Barclay James Harvest on a bad day.

And then we got the lyrics.

Some of them are good, others way down that silly road that Power Metal usually occupies. Stuff like “Don’t need no flashy house, no car or ugly wife” or “The only thing I want, Is what my parents don’t” just ain’t going to land you in starry Valhalla of fandom. And this is a pity. Why pollute what is basically top-dollar metal with 2nd hand teenage-style lyrics that will just pull it down?

The album boasts its fair share of fillers too, like the atrocious No Way! This …  thing so ridiculously copies Ozzy Osbourne of times long gone that I am not sure I wanna laugh or cry. Well, if anything it shows Isfeldt is able to project his voice in more ways than one.

I guess you wonder how a review with so many negatives can ever reap a relatively good score of 6/10 like this one. The Book of Heavy Metal was indeed a tough nut to crack in the rating department. But the good is by far outweighing the bad on this record.

In other words, if stuff is good, then it is really good and vice versa. Also, the meaty contributions from Gus G are pulling this mighty truck out of the mud more often than not. Just as an example take The Mirror that is really saved by the guitar solo found slam in the middle.

So, in all, The Book of Heavy Metal is a solid metal contribution to the arsenal of songs a dwindling community can still muster to bring forward. Check it out! At the very least, Dream Evil mete out what they promise: Rock solid Heavy Metal, delivered with a zing that is refreshing. The lack of innovation notwithstanding.  

Record Rating: 6/10 | Label: Century Media Records | Web: Official Site
Release date: 13 July 2004

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