A lot has happened in the DREAM EVIL camp since the release of their last album “The Book Of Heavy Metal” in 2004. First of all Greek guitar wizard Gus G. left the band to concentrate on his own band FIREWIND and his contributions to MYSTIC PROPHECY and NIGHTRAGE, to be replaced by formerly unknown Markus "Mark Black" Fristedt. Then in 2005 singer Niklas Isfeldt was forced to undergo throat surgery which would keep him from singing for six months, which in turn was delaying the production of the fourth album “United”. During this period, some internal issues arose over the future of DREAM EVIL and both Niklas and Peter Stålfors (who already had been playing in PURE X before DREAM EVIL was founded) officially left the band in June. Two months later they were replaced with Jake E. Berg (DREAMLAND) and Tommy Larsson (JAGGERNAUT) respectively. It took only another month, before Niklas and Peter came back into the band, with their replacements having not played a single note in their absence. In early 2006 finally drummer Snowy Shaw deserted the band, after which the band kept looking for a new drummer, just to find it in Fredrik Nordstöm’s own Studio Fredman, where Patrik Jerksten (here with the pretty stupid pseudonym Pat Power) was working as an engineer.
So despite these stormy times, “United” finally has seen the light of day and to make it short – who hated DREAM EVIL so far, will continue to hate them, who loved them so far, will continue to love them, because they stayed very true to themselves, in basically every department. The foundation of their songs still is very deeply rooted in the traditional Metal of the 80s, complete with the soaring vocals of Isfeldt, the guitar work of Nordström and Fristedt and the pounding rhythm work. DREAM EVIL also still are as far removed from winning a Pulitzer Prize for their lyrical content as Lemmy is from a vegan diet with milk as only liquid food, because especially here they seem to try to cover every cliché in the book.
But that does not stop the Swedes from once again churning out some highly memorable Heavy Metal anthems that should get the blood pumping in every traditionalist’s veins. From the driving “Fire! Battle! In Metal!”, which will work like a hot damn in the live environment, over the super catchy “Blind Evil”, the excellent hymn “Higher On Fire” to the fat double-bass monster “Falling”, it is all quality material that lives off the good guitar work and Niklas Isfeldt’s soaring vocals, which elevate the compositions to the next level all on their own. And just because I only mentioned these songs, even the weaker songs on this album would be at least good tracks on CDs of many other bands, so fret not, this is strong stuff.
One song, though, I just HAVE to mention separately: “My Number One”. Up until earlier this year hardly anybody outside of Europe had ever heard of the “European Song Contest”, which usually had pretty sappy ballads and Pop on offer, but this year it suddenly rose to never thought of prominence through Finnish Metallers LORDI celebrating a landslide victory. Now this song right here was the winner of the 2005 edition, sung by Greek singer Elena Paparizou and with Gus G. being Greek he decided to come back for one last hurrah and the band delivers a smoking Metal version of this song, which just sounds great!
Alright, let’s see, the songs are good to very good and the musicianship is impeccable. The lyrics still are as dumb and predictable as they always were. The production, hey, if the boss of Fredman is in the band, nothing but the best will do! The cover is forgettable once more, but that seems to evolve into yet another DREAM EVIL tradition (like the lyrics). So what does that result in? A darn good anthem packed Heavy Metal album, not more, not less!
(Online November 10, 2006)