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Dragonland – The Power of the Nightstar

Dragonland
The Power of the Nightstar
by Fred “Cage” Bonanno at 05 December 2022, 1:39 PM

Eleven years between album releases can put a lot of pressure on a band from critics and fans alike, waiting with bated breath and anticipation, and that’s what Swedish rockers DRAGONLAND did with the release on October 14, 2022 of their sixth full length album “The Power of the Nightstar”. It’s a sci-fi concept album, telling the story of a people astray, looking for a new home throughout a hostile universe, an interesting theme indeed (with killer album cover artwork). No strangers to intriguing and diverse album motif’s with their first two releases “The Battle of the Ivory Plains” in 2001 and “Holy War” in 2002, fast forward to their fifth release “Under the Gray Banner”  in 2011 before finally getting back in the studio for this latest effort “The Power of the Nightstar”, not only is it the band’s longest (13 songs) and most elaborate album to date, but it also documents a remarkable artistic development. “The overall approach is a bit more cinematic sound-wise than our earlier releases” keyboardist Elias Holmlid explains. The album also introduces drummer Johan Nunez (FIREWIND, NIGHTRAGE) to the current line-up.

Opening this space odyssey with “The Awakening” has mystic, orchestral backdrop that feels like the opening credits of a movie score, and maybe that’s exactly what was intended, so I’ll grab my popcorn and milk duds and head into track two “A Light in the Dark”, which brings throaty lead vocals paired with crisp, clean harmonizing backed by dynamic synths mixed with melodic, mid-tempo riffs finishing off with a nice guitar solo. I think I see which musical direction this album is headed, it may wind up a bit predictable, something that’s been done before, but there’s a lot of music still to come. “Flight from Destruction” gets me grooving right from the rambunctious start with speedy, catchy riffs and gritty vocals highlighted with a precise dual guitar jam and an addictive chorus, this is a heavier, good time rocking song. Normally in my reviews I will try and assess at least half of the album, but I’m stepping outside the box on this one and with a more general evaluation of the remaining ten songs. There are some very good classic power metal moments, some rollicking flurry riffs, enough crushing guitar hooks and solos, some of the slower songs do labor on a bit much and there is a lot of orchestration and synths which I expected from a sci-fi concept album. I did feel the band veered away from previous releases and came in with a different, more personal approach on “The Power of the Nightstar, they also painted a fascinating picture of a futuristic space odyssey with absorbing lyrics like: Now they finally have a way to fight back The power of the Nightstar fuels their fighters Hope's again been reignited It's do or die one last time Long have their journey lasted At last a new era lies there waiting for them. Sometimes concept albums need a second, third or fourth listen to be fully appreciated, and this album falls into that grouping. There is a lot of potential here and I would still recommend a listen…or a second…or third…or fourth.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production :7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Awakening
2. A Light in the Dark
3. Flight from Destruction
4. Through Galaxies Endless
5. The Scattering of Darkness
6. A Threat from Beyond the Shadows
7. Aphelion
8. Celestial Squadron
9. Resurrecting an Ancient Technology
10. The Power of the Nightstar
11. Final Hour
12. Journey's End
13. Oblivion
Lineup:
Elias Holmlid  - Keyboards
Anders Hammer - Bass
Jonas Heidgert - Vocals
Olof Mörck - Guitars
Jesse Lindskog - Guitars
Johan Nunez - Drums
Record Label: AFM Records
     


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