It has been seven years since any new material emerged from this Swedish metal outfit, that at one time boasted Gus G and Snowy Shaw in the ranks, which isn’t to diminish the stature of the current line-up which is formidable to say the least and has been consistent for over ten years with only Mark Black being the most recently appointed member in 2013 on guitar. At the helm as ever is producer extraordinaire and guitarist Fredrik Nordström who formed the band back in 1999. The hiatus is explained by the members having commitments to things outside of making music, as the promo information states.
Bands like Dream Evil are timeless, heavy metal is timeless and the band forges ahead along the path towards heavy metal utopia with their sixth album, as you’ve probably worked out by now. There’s no change in direction, Dream Evil do what they do best and write anthemic metal songs that veer from energy fuelled beasts to softer more genteel songs but still packing a punch in the riff department. Intentionally or not the album is bookended by “Dream Evil” which opens the release and “We Are Forever” which I am assuming is a mission statement, well that’s how I’m interpreting it anyway. The opener is a pulsing rhythmic riff frenzied track backed up by a forceful vocal performance by Niklas Isfeldt as the band back him up with a chant like approach on the chorus. As expected the pace is picked up for “Antidote” utilising a double kick start and much heavier riff which is Judas Priest oriented without cloning. The lead work on this album is phenomenal as Fredrik Nordström and new blood Mark Black shred with the best linking the solos with the bouncing tempos oft deployed throughout the release.
The first of the genteel tunes arises with “Creature Of The Night”, a track straight from the 1980s with its soaring vocal lines and emotive guitar playing held together by smooth bass work and a throbbing drum beat. The vocal arrangement that starts “Hellride” is very close to how Sabbath’s “War Pigs” starts which I’m taking as deliberate though the style is short-lived when the bruising riff pushes through using the drums to increase the weightiness of the song as Niklas unleashes tremendous powerful vocals. “How To Start A War” launches itself via a blazing lead break that is tempered ready for the vocals. This album is massively guitar focused which may be stating the obvious but Dream Evil go above and beyond by delivering sumptuous lead guitar work at every opportune and appropriate moment making the songs texturally opulent. Increasing the density is “The Murdered Mind” which has a borderline starting thrash stance as the vocals cruise into the song and have a slightly deeper tone, with only the chorus lifting the song into lighter realms. That heaviness continues with “Too Loud” a powerhouse track that is 80s based and is likely to be included in the live shows in future, if and when they materialise. There is an American metal feel, sort of glam due to the rousing chorus and gang chanted chorus lines within the song.
With songs about heavy metal life, battles, the devil that really only leaves a song about motorbikes which arises via “44 Riders” which has a Primal Fear like style being a stirring uplifting tune bolstered by the gritty riffing and lower tone vocals, though Niklas hits the high end on the chorus breaks. As stated earlier the album ends with my interpretation as a mission statement called “We Are Forever” which is heavy metal camaraderie personified and wouldn’t be amiss on a Manowar album or Hammerfall release. The songs purposeful slow beat gives the lyrics freedom to be absorbed and memorised as Niklas is absolutely stunning on this tune and when you get the chorus and the whole backing choral style the track is completely immersive despite the well-worn cliché, but who cares, this is heavy metal and this is what it is all about and even though the band has written many songs like this it is still resolutely relevant and ends the album brilliantly.
Dream Evil do what they do best, write varied heavy metal songs that take you through an emotional journey of metal nostalgia but maintaining a fresh approach that established fans of the band will be relieved about and new fans can latch onto and capture the life-force that is HEAVY METAL.
(8/10 Martin Harris)