Bloodbound - War Of Dragons - (8/10)
Published on February 24, 2017
I really want to hate this. Don’t get me wrong, power metal is one of my greatest passions in life, and any album adorned by a dragon will garner my attention. But I don’t want my fellow critics to think that I’m on autopilot, praising the everloving shit out of any band who sing about wizards, magic, rainbows etc. Therefore, the new Bloodbound, War Of Dragons, was my opportunity to hear something truly generic and dull. After all, with song titles like “Dragons Are Forever” and “King Of Swords”, this couldn’t possibly be anything but unoriginal tripe…right?
Damn. It’s good. Real good. On this, their seventh full-length, and after a highly consistent run, the Swedes have amassed a collection of rousing power metal anthems that are rife with triumph and glory. Of course it’s nothing original, but no power metal fan should ever expect true originality these days. There are three songs with the word ‘dragon’ in the title for God’s sake. Embrace the generic! These also happen to be this record’s particularly strong tracks; especially the the storming “Dragons Are Forever”. With a chorus that soars among the clouds, it is the absolute correct choice to close the album.
Bloodbound are a reliable band and rarely offer surprises, but the added layer of synths to War Of Dragons is an expansion on their sound. On the slower tracks, it almost comes across as Sabaton-esque (a band I very rarely use comparatively!). The production could have been handled better so that the synths don’t envelope the vocals; especially on “Battle In The Sky” and “Tears Of A Dragonheart”. Otherwise, the mix is pleasing all round. The drums thunder along with plenty of power, and the choral vocals are especially notable as they surround Pata’s delectable tones.
If there’s any gripe I’d pick at, it’s that the whole affair may be a track or two too long. There’s no token ballad or epic interlude, so it really is just eleven straight-up hymnal metal anthems with little variation (obligatory 30-second intro notwithstanding). “Fallen Heroes” offers a more earthy listen with its marching tempo and grandiose choirs, but the whole release would’ve benefited from replacing the fodder (“Silver Wings”) with a real sore-thumb highlight. Admittedly, the grimy riffage in “Starfall” is enough to make anyone’s ears prick up and listen – and subsequently headbang – but too little, too late.
From the rapid-fire gallop of “King Of Swords”, to the bombastic theatre of “Symphony Satana”, War Of Dragons is generic beyond belief. But I’ve made peace with that being the reason we adore this sub-genre so much. Fantasy, swords, steel, magic, wizards, fire, glory…and, of course, dragons. Need I say more?