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Dragonland: Starfall

Album Notes

Although the power metal revival movement of the '90s and 2000s has had some worthwhile American bands, the majority of participants have been from Western Europe -- some from Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, some from Great Britain, some from Italy and Spain, some from the Scandinavian countries. And one of the many Scandinavian power metal revival outfits is Sweden's Dragonland, who show no awareness of post-'80s metal trends on the proudly retro Starfall. Sweden, of course, had a ton of death metal/black metal activity in the '90s and early to mid-'00s, but there isn't a trace of death metal or black metal on Starfall; nor is there any alternative metal, rap-metal or metalcore influence on this disc. Although recorded in 2003 and 2004, Starfall is a total throwback to the old-school power metal of the '70s and '80s -- and this grandiose, elaborate effort (which is full of stereotypical dungeons-and-dragons lyrics) gets a great deal of inspiration from progressive rock as well. Dragonland's hard-rocking yet consistently melodic approach is best described as Iron Maiden, Queensrÿche, Savatage and Manowar by way of Rush, Kansas, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer; this is a 2000s recording that sounds like it could have been made at least 20 years earlier. Dragonland isn't the least bit groundbreaking -- there are quite a few other European power metal revival acts that have been influenced by progressive rock and give the impression that they could enjoy Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime one minute and Yes' Tales from Topographic Oceans the next. But even though Starfall isn't big on originality, the CD certainly deserves credit for craftsmanship and quality. And while Starfall isn't remarkable, it is an enjoyable (if derivative) effort that is worth hearing if one is a die-hard power metal enthusiast who also appreciates progressive rock. ~ Alex Henderson



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