A new release from Bloodbound to kick off 2017? Don't mind if I do! Bloodbound was founded in mid '04 by Tomas Olsson (lead guitar) and Fredrik Bergh (keyboards/vocals). The lineup for this release sees Henrik Olsson return on rhythm guitars, Anders Broman on bass, Pelle Åkerlind on drums and Patrik Selleby on lead vocals. Selleby has been with the band for a number of their most recent releases and, while he is a change of pace from Bloodbound’s earlier work, he's created a fantastic sound that has become a defining part of these powerful Swedes! I was excited (and surprised) that we were already being offered a follow up album to 2014's 'Stormborn'. Not that a few years between releases isn't enough time, but Bloodbound are quickly pulling together a discography that has already grown to seven full length album releases in just over eleven years! I'm happy to say that this early 2017 gift is some of their finest work. Let's take a look at the music…
An ambient track, ‘A New Era Begins’, introduces us to a threatening bellow from the beast dragon! ‘Battle in the Sky’ instantly throws the listener into a wonderfully composed mix of speedy guitars and eloquent keys. The vocals set a tone that, while classic sounding, still offer something a bit fresh for our first huge release of 2017. Selleby's range is really showcased in the opening few tracks. Mellow sections bridge the gap between a raucous opening and intense close.
‘Tears of a Dragon’ kicks off with a splendid chorus filled with chanting voices. Sometimes, it bothers me when a band gives away the climax of a track at the offset, but Bloodbound find a great way to rebuild the song through a magnificent journey between guitar solos and curious transitions. Our title track, ‘War of Dragons’, powers through as we near the mid portion of Bloodbound’s offering. Love the change of pace within, as we go from speedy, crunchy guitars into a near marching session with moody keys in the background. Epic music here! ‘Silver Wings’ offers excellent, near-folk style keyboards and harmony. ‘Stand and Fight’ feels like a symphonic metal quest into the battlefield! Great speedy guitars along with a courageous message!
‘King of Swords’ has a serious Judas Priest vibe to it. Love it! Like a great homage paid to Halford's days with ‘Fight’! Another awesome track! ‘Fallen Heroes’ comes off as a bit of a sleeper track on this release. It's not terrible, by any means, but it slows down the overall pacing of the rest of the songs. A pretty good transition between tracks, nonetheless. ‘Guardians at Heaven's Gate’ is probably my favorite track here. The intro, the pacing, the chorus… just perfection.
‘Symphony Santa’ brings St. Nick straight into your earholes! Well, maybe not, but it's a great track with a powerful chorus. ‘Starfall’ and ‘Dragons are Forever’ close out this glorious album. ‘Starfall’ has a moody techno intro, which is quite different to the rest, but quickly continues down a familiar path; while ‘Dragons are Forever’ brings us to the promised land with our upbeat path with a fun chorus.
There are no weak points in this release. If you separated the entirety of what we have into trimesters, I would grade ‘War of Dragons’ as a T1 A, T2 A-, T3 A. A seriously strong showing by Bloodbound here. If you like bands such as Cellador or Sonata Arctica, you owe it to yourself to pick up ‘War of Dragons’. It has everything a person could desire in luscious symphonic speed metal. Songs like ‘Guardians at Heaven's Gate’ and ‘Starfall’ are two excellent example tracks that prove Bloodbound have achieved an absolute spectacle in music making! Highly recommended!
WAR OF DRAGONS
Review by Joshua Jaeger
24th February 2017
1) A New Era Begins
2) Battle in the Sky
3) Tears of a Dragonheart
4) War of Dragons; 5) Silver Wings
6) Stand and Fight
7) King of Swords
8) Fallen Heroes
9) Guardians at Heaven's Gate
10) Symphony Santa
12) Dragons are Forever
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"It has everything a person could desire in luscious symphonic speed metal."