01. Fire! Battle! In Metal! 02. United 03. Blind Evil 04. Evilution 05. Let Me Out 06. Higher on Fire 07. Kingdom at War 08. Love is Blind 09. Falling 10. Back from the Dead 11. Doomlord 12. My Number One
Dream Evil’s previous albums have stirred some controversy for how they seemed to mock the heavy metal stereotype (see lyrics for ‘Made of Metal’ and ‘The Book of Heavy Metal’) even as they propagated it. However, as evidenced by the new album title, ‘United’, these Swede’s have now taken a less contentious lyrical stance. Their themes are still as cheesily hackneyed as ever—appropriate for Manowar, even—but their typical joking fun and games are saved until the album’s end.
Some fans may be displeased to learn that ‘United’ marks their first album without Gus G. as lead axeman and the curious Snowy Shaw on drums. Those two do make an appearance, though, for the final track on the album, ‘My Number One’, a tongue-in-cheek (yet seriously metal) cover of the 2005 Eurovision song contest winner from Greek pop star Helena Paparizou. Their replacements, Mark Black and Pat Power, are both talented enough to take up the slack, overcoming the canned sound of the drum kit and slight overproduction of the guitars. Mark does not sprinkle shredding interludes throughout each song as frequently as Gus chose to, but Dream Evil has always been about the choruses rather than the solos, and this new, more straightforward approach does ‘United’ no disservice.
Indeed, Dream Evil are as anthematic as ever, writing structurally predictable songs that merge traditional 80’s riffing with power metal’s infectious vocal melodies. Even a skeptic (such as this reviewer here) will be caught up in the rush of ‘Fire! Battle! In Metal!’, or any other of these consistently catchy rockers and power ballads.
They are undeniably formulaic and derivative, though. ‘Evilution’, among others, is eerily redolent of Saxon’s ‘Living on the Edge’ and ‘Let Me Out’ shares a lot with Helloween’s ‘I Live For Your Pain’, while Nocturnal Rites and Primal Fear are also both constantly coming to mind. But Dream Evil themselves acknowledge their dependence on the earlier generation, even embracing the comparison. They remind us that “heavy metal is fun!”, and that we should, “stop taking [our]selves so seriously.”
Many modern power metal groups (Freedom Call, Hammerfall, etc.) promote a similar agenda, but few possess enough of a songwriting punch to be considered anything more than lightweights or an afternoon tryst. Dream Evil have that talent. If they continue to gravitate away from the campiness of the older material such as ‘Evilized’ and towards the more focused, ‘true metal’ image found here, competitors will have a hard time keeping up with their energy and easy appeal.
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