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Holy Dragons - Jörmungander - The Serpent Of The World

Holy Dragons
Jörmungander - The Serpent Of The World
by Matt Bozenda at 23 September 2022, 10:47 PM

Surely, we’ve all been there; every one of us had a greater dream of where we would be now, whether we wanted to be rock stars, top athletes, astronauts, or whatever.  Many don’t come close and a chosen few see them come true, but a lot of us were nearly there, so frustratingly close to the finish line but not quite reaching it. Surely, we’ve all been there.

So it must be easy to sympathize with the likes of HOLY DRAGONS. One of if not the very first Metal acts to emerge in post-Soviet Kazakhstan, the band has gone through turbulent times since forming under a different name in 1992, followed by a major label debut in 1998 with a more or less steady output since then, albeit with a revolving lineup of musicians. The current lineup as listed is responsible for the band’s eighteenth full-length album, “Jörmungander - The Serpent Of The World”.a not-quite-there-yet masterpiece of modern Power and Speed metal.

A Power metal intro featuring a vaguely Mediterranean/Middle Eastern vibe is swiftly swept aside by “Shadows Of The Past”, trouncing in without further preface. Pretty standard but well competent Power/Speed in the classic Heavy vein is on the menu here, but the vocals are where the lines will likely form. The band’s longtime guitarist has stepped in to do the singing since 2015, but the market for a shrieking GEDDY LEE cadence is not large.

Unfortunate, that is, because the band seems to be doing everything else right. A clear lean towards an IRON MAIDEN influence comes through on “The Toothless Wolf”, and “Heading For The Oblivion” begins with a lot of promise.

This critic held out until “Sinister Piper” before officially tiring of the vocal style being employed. The follower, “Personages Of A Damned Dream”, should stand as proof positive that while they could use a new singer, they should do everything they can to keep the bassist and the drummer. The album’s heavyweight, the ten-minute “On My Watch”, felt entirely too long, however.

And that, actually, sums up the album as a whole. With a dozen tracks totalling up at nearly fifty-eight minutes, there are spots where, even in spite of the above-average music, it is taking forever to make any sort of point. The sub-par vocals also tragically brings down the average for “Jörmungander - The Serpent Of The World”. HOLY DRAGONS has come so close to making something truly special here, but they’ve come up agonizingly short.

But haven’t we all been there? The good news for HOLY DRAGONS is that they’ve only got the one final piece to find. The music played out on “Jörmungander - The Serpent Of The World” is very good, but they end up like an experiment of RUSH or BUDGIE going to Power metal.Some proper vocalist auditions may be just what the band needs to finally break through. Although, if they haven’t gotten it in thirty years now…

Musicianship: 7
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Vigridr
2. Shadows Of The Past
3. Loki
4. The Toothless Wolf
5. Somebody’s Life
6. Heart Of Midgard
7. Sinister Piper
8. Personages Of A Damned Dream
9. Heading For The Oblivion
10. On My Watch
11. Jörmungander
12. Idavölir
Lineup:
Chris “Thora Thorheim” Caine - lead vocals, guitars
Jurgen “Stratomaniac” Thunderson - guitars, backing vocals
Ivan Manchenko - bass
Zabir Shamsutdinov - drums
Record Label: Pitch Black Records
     


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