So yes, it would be a little less formulaic if a band named their fourth or second album “III”, just to mess with people, but in the cynical world we live in the joke would no doubt backfire on the band. That aside, Greek Epic Metal band Dexter Ward unleash their seventh album (OK, it’s their third…), on a war-weary world with tales of heroic battles, unyielding warriors, merciless tyrants, mighty weapons and sweaty chain mail. I mean what did you think you were going to get with songs called ‘Conan The Barbarian’, ‘The Dragon Of The Mist’ and ‘Reign Of The White Knight’?
Dexter Ward are an accomplished Metal band that have been around for over 10 years now and echo the war-cries of bands like classic Virgin Steele, Visigoth, Manilla Road, Ironsword and fellow Greeks Battleroar. I guess the last comparison is a given as Dexter Ward feature ex-Battleroar members Manolis Karesiris (guitars) and Mark Dexter (vocals), but whereas Battleroar have a tendency to favour the hammer-on-anvil plod, Dexter Ward inject a lot more urgency into many of their tracks, with ‘Conan The Barbarian’ and ‘Return Of The Blades’ being speedy enough to get the Power Metal fans on board, if they hadn’t been won over already by the sheer Heavy Metal-ness of the thing.
There’s no shortage of pounding drums, thundering bass, powerful riffs and striking lead-work on “III”, but free from the shackles of Battleroar, Mark Dexter really gets to push his vocal range to accompany this bands slightly more diverse musical energy. For instance, when the music nudges occasionally towards US speed metal on tracks like ‘Reign Of The White Knight’, Dexter sounds impressively of Steve Plocica (Apocrypha) among others, which is certainly a different side to his voice. So, on the whole this is an album that should appeal to a much wider area of Metal fans than the Epic Metal banner might originally suggest. Dexter Ward are a Metal band with their eyes firmly fixed on the horizon and the conquests that lie beyond.
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)