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Dragonhammer - Obscurity

Dragonhammer
Obscurity
by Erik Akos at 21 December 2017, 5:55 AM

DRAGONHAMMER is an Italian Power Metal band formed in 1999, in Lazio. They’ve been around for 18 years now, and released 4 albums in their career, the latest is today’s victim, "Obscurity," released via My Kingdom Music. I think that’s enough information, so let’s start dissecting it. DRAGONHAMMER dedicated an entire track just to bring you into the experience, and it’s actually one of the best tracks on the album. (make of that what you will) "Darkness Is Coming” is basically a disaster-movie trailer song, or something that would be perfect for the battle of Hogwarts. It’s nothing too awesome, but still works perfectly, especially the muffled rhythmic cannon fire.

After getting into a perfect mood for some old-school Power Metal, "The Eye of The Storm” starts out with a phenomenal intro, kind of cute, to be honest. I don’t know what instrument is used, but I sure do love it to death. Freaking Catchy. Besides that, The absence of guitars from the verses give it a really unique feel, they only come in on the pre-chorus section. Phenomenal intro and solo section, solid melody, up-lifting as hell.  Amazing melodies, even though not really unique. Also appreciate not too many high vocal parts.

I really don’t dig the production of this record, the guitars are barely audible, too loud drums. Has a little more menacing mood, rather than simply epic. Production-wise, the mix is really odd, the instruments and the vocals are all independent, they don’t mix into each other much, and I’d say that’s rather negative. Anwyay, "Brother Vs. Brother” is a solid addition, a bit more serious toned, but still keeps that fun element inside. Another amazing solo, overall another great song, keeps the same aspects that make it good, but changes up the tone.

"Under The Vatican Grounds” (weird title, isn’t it?) with a more symphonic intro, and is considerably different than it’s two predecessors, it mixes elements of both to make a hybrid style. This is also the track where vocalist Max Aguzzi shines, the song is mostly focused on him, production-wise too. DRAGONHAMMER makes use of Power Metal clichés. Of course that’s not as good as being unique, but they don’t come off as generic and bland. At least not in the first five tracks. More acoustic and/or symphonic instruments, perhaps more in the front, not just as backing. would give it a really good layer of sound. The vocals are ok mostly for PM standards, but they are probably my least favourite thing about the record.

"The Game of Blood” places more emphasis on keyboards and symphonic instruments, with an okay solo, but overall a bit boring  atmosphere and instrumentation, but it still captures you in a certain way, at least in a really minimal amount. Unfortunately, that’s where the decent to great section of Obscurity and the generic to boring section begins. Most songs have a bit of potential, but sadly break down into the dark pit of blandness. "The Town of Evil” and "Children Of The Sun” try to utilize the same Power Metal formula, but A) This is not the first of the album anymore, so to repeat it over and over again is NOT a good way of filling your record with songs and B) The good use of genre clichés faded away quickly in the second half of „The Game of Blood” anyways, so yeah, there’s that too. "Fighting The Beast” makes a solid comeback try, and is the best track in the second half, but that’s it, the only song in the B-side that compares to the magic 5. The last two ("Remember My Name and the title track) aren’t any better to be honest, the former is the ballad, the problem with it is that it resembles Blind Guardian’s „The Bard’s Song” too much. And the latter, "Obscurity” well… if I just listened to it, I would probably like it, a lot, but in the context of the album, it really just..sucks. You’re tired of the same formula, it lacks diversity and it’s not climactic at all.

So, the verdict: "Obscurity” gives me a very mixed feeling. I love the first 5 songs, I really do, but I can’t just forget about the other 50%. However, the first half is so good, I may just say this album is worth a few listens.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 5
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Darkness Is Coming
2. The Eye of The Storm
3. Brother vs. Brother
4. Under The Vatican Grounds
5. The Game of Blood
6. The Town of Evil
7. Children of The Sun
8. Fighting The Beast
9. Remember My Name
10. Obscurity
Lineup:
Flavio Cicconi – Guitars
Gae Amodio - Bass
Max Aguzzi – Vocals, Guitars
Giulio Cattivera - Keyboards
Giuseppe De Paolo - Guitars
Andrea Gianangeli – Drums
Record Label: My Kingdom Music
     


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Edited 17 January 2018
 

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