Magma Dragon - Full Attack Action - (6.5/10)
Published on October 8, 2014
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is mostly known for beer and the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks professional sports teams, but metal? Hardly any band made it to a wider audience, the two that might come the closest are Morta Skuld and Shroud of Despondency, yet still, Milwaukee is a somewhat white spot on the metal map. A fairly young band trying to change that is Magma Dragon, a power metal outfit with ambitions, serving up Full Attack Action, a compilation of their three demos to date, plus six previously unreleased songs.
So what are the ambitions of Magma Dragon? To play symphonic power metal without sounding like the other symphonic power metal bands out there, so a laudable goal and one that many bands have failed to fully achieve in the end. And the Americans also hit a few of the stumbling blocks, some harder than others. Two of the main areas of concern are the vocals and the flow of the songs, which hinder the progress of Full Attack Action considerably in some places, but are issues that are easier to overcome than others.
The band’s excursions into neighbouring genres breaks up the power metal foundation, making them differ from the rest, as quasi-opener “Two Weeks on the Westergale” shows, with a pure power metal chorus, but a calmer verse with keyboards, putting together this contrast that works in the band’s favour. Same goes for the heavier and more epic widescreen approach of “Breastplate of Inspiring Command” that still has some room for improvement, but shows.
There are a few tracks that really hit it home, such as “Bulette Blood”, the folky tavern-song “Dungeons & Flagons”, straighter “Metallum Aeternum” (with female vocals) and closing “Frozen Tears of the Huntress”, but they are facing stiff competition of lacklustre “War Cleric” and “Rune Giant” or the duo of “City Rogue” and “Chaotic Evil Outsider”, which both feature blastbeasts and growls that completely kill the atmosphere and flow and are really foreign objects in the band’s sound.
The ambition is there, same for the execution on some of the songs, but not only are 15 tracks a little too much overall, but while being a compilation of three demos, Full Attack Action lacks focus and in many cases flow. Magma Dragon are on a good way to be one of those “different” bands of the genre, but still have some work ahead of them, it is a good sampler of both what they are capable off and where the issues still lie, interesting listen nevertheless.