Once in a while we at Metalrage.com recieve an album whose title already reminds me of classic metal like Dokken, Iron Maiden, Diamond Head and the likes of those. I had the same feeling when I read the title of the latest album of The Guardian, Dragonland.
The Guardian is a Belgium heavy metal band, found in 1997. The band has since tried to earn their stripes in the land of metal, while competition is always present. With Dragonland, they produced their first full-length album. The album contains an intro and 9 songs crammed with heavy metal. My expectations are those of some good classic heavy metal. The album is self-produced and it's a first full-length effort... Well, let's have a listen.
The first thing I noticed when listening to the intro, was the irritating distorted voice that tells a story of some sort I can't even understand. The music (a slow-paced guitarlead) is very good, but it keeps getting interrupted by that annoying voice... not a good start of a record, but what the heck; I should be a little more optimistic, right?
Yeah, I can relate to that thought very well. The heavy rythm with which 'Dragonland' kicks in is really a good appetizer for things to come. Although the riffs sounds quite standard and the melodies aren't of that kind that would make a hardcore metalbanger go crazy, I'd say this isn't a bad start at all.
I guess you can say that this is the point where it started to get a little different from my point of view. Where the music still remains kick-ass most of the time (apart from the sometimes a bit too simplistic rhythm sections and annoying melodies that jump out), the singing is not good. At first, Luke Lambrechts sounds somewhat like a 'safe' singer, reluctant to take his steps into the higher notes. This causes the songs to sound somewhat dull at certain times, but still good to listen to.
But then, when 'Desert Storm' starts, the high vocals are there. But not in a way I like to hear them. Very fragile and uncertain, missing that power that this kind of music so badly needs. At times Luke's voice reminds me of that of the vocals of X-Japan, and that's certainly not a bad thing.
The musicianship of the individual members is good, no doubt about that. The potential is certainly there, but the production just leaves a hole or two open. In 'Desert Storm', the vocals just completely fade sometimes during the chorus. I know it's a self-produced album, but still...
All in all, I'd say that The Guardian does a reasonable job of bringing the world heavy metal. The songs could be given a more inspiring sound (more diversity in riffs) and lyrics and the vocals definitely need some work in my opinion.
The Guardian has an upcoming album, called Open Your Eyes, that's most likely to see the light of day at the end of 2005. I'm anxious to see in what way the band has evolved. Until then, I'm not getting goosebumps with Dragonland, one way or the other.
3. Lords of Eternity
4. Desert Storm
5. See Me Coming
6. Cross The Swords
7. Rings of Dead
8. The Reason
9. Never Again
10. Dreaming (bonus track)
Luke Lambrechts - vocals, guitars
Palle Kesteloot - guitars
Stef de Bruyn - bass
Ronny Smeekens - drums