“Flight Of The Dragon” is TENGWAR’s self-released studio debut (they had previously released a live album), and it harkens back to earlier moments of Metal Blade (before Metalcore became the label’s calling card), and other gems from Metal’s heyday. What you get on “Flight Of The Dragon” is Epic/Heavy/US Metal that fits right in with OMEN, HELSTAR, MANILLA ROAD, CIRITH UNGOL and LEIGE LORD. Right down to the band’s name, which comes from straight from Tolkien’s realm, the lyrical stance should also be pretty easy to figure out.
There are absolutely no trends whatsoever on “Flight Of The Dragon”, and really nothing even remotely modern. From the vocals, to the guitar tone, to the melodic solos, to the production/mix itself and to the cover art, everything about the album screams “old school”. However, many of the songs don’t stand out quite like the classics of the above genre masters, but the best of the songs more than make up for this.
“DragonStrike”, with it’s ferocious, rolling stomp in the verses and playful, melodic leads in the chorus is a real standout, and maybe the best song on the album. TENGWAR show that they know how to Thrash on “Hammer Of The Gods”, and “Flight Of The Gryphon” is a sprawling epic number (even though it’s only a little over four-minutes long). While there is handful of ‘filler’ on the album, for a debut TENGWAR is more than on the right track and with some work could easily land themselves on Old School Metal Records or Cruz Del Sur.
Along with songwriting skills that need to honing, TENGWAR has one other weakness, which brought the score down a half point: vocalist Jack Bauer (that truly is his listed name…I wonder if he fights terrorists during his downtime from the band). Bauer is not terrible by any means, but simply needs some work. He’s neither a classic styled vocalist such as James Rivera, nor is he an obscurest ala Tim Baker or Mark Shelton, but instead lies somewhere in the middle. This could certainly work to TENGWAR’s favor, if Bauer works to improve his power.
“Flight Of The Dragon” won’t overthrow any of the classic albums by the above mentioned, or other similar artists, but it will certainly cause any old-school Metalhead to throw up the horns and head-bang. I know the album certainly brought a smile to my face.
(Online May 28, 2007)