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Review: Dragonland - Under the Grey Banner
Under the Grey Banner

Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2011
Duration: 55:55
Tracks: 12
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: March 22, 2012
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
Under the Grey Banner

Rated 3.78/5 (75.65%) (23 Votes)

I listen to a lot of Power Metal and, after a while, it all starts to sound the same. I forget what good Power Metal is supposed to sound like until albums like Dragonland's Under the Grey Banner come along. It's not just about the crunchy guitars, double-kick drums, flashy keyboards and infectious choruses, thought all are present on Under the Grey Banner in copious amounts. The songwriting has to live up to the top notch performances and production required of Power Metal. And indeed it does.

The instrumental intro, "Ilmarion," is a bit long at just over three minutes, but after that there are no missteps. "Shadows of the Mithril Mountain" blazes forth with double-kicks and a majestic vocal melody. Sound effects are used skillfully, such as the distant call of loons during the transition from the up-tempo "The Black Mare" to "Lady of Goldenwood," the latter a stunning ballad. Songs like "Dûrnir's Forge" evoke images of being in an underground lair in parley with the dwarven characters in the story. Even the lyrics, which tell a classic story of good vs. evil and feature elves, dwarves, and dragons, while not exactly original, are far from cliché.

Under the Grey Banner is an excellent example of fantasy-themed Power Metal that stands up with classic releases from bands like Blind Guardian and Dark Moor. Highly recommended.

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