For all of you, who do not know DIONYSUS from their debut "Sign Of Truth" yes, the band consists of former SINERGY drummer Ronny Milianowicz, the two former NATION members Johnny Öhlin and Nobby Noberg, ex Malmsteen keyboardist Kaspar Dahlqvist and German singer Olaf Hayer, who should be known off Luca Turilli’s solo albums (and before that also LORD BYRON and TREASURE SEEKER), a high octane line-up, which in my opinion could not fully deliver with their debut, it was not bad, but it wasn’t much more either.
"Anima Mundi" sees the band in the same line-up, also with a really good artwork (by KAMELOT designer Derek Gores) and musically also a good bit better than two years ago. Power Metal is the weapon of choice, but they wisely stay away from the big choirs and bombastic arrangements, some might say that they have a keyboarder in their line-up, which is true, but he does not lay carpets, but uses his instrument more in favour of the song and does not fill holes.
Opener "Divine" marches out in true Power Metal opener fashion, driving, melodic, good, while “Bringer Of War“ follows it up surprisingly measured and intense, unfortunately I again do not have the lyrics, but this one has been penned by HAMMERFALL singer Joacim Cans. Strong song and still a bit unusual for a Power Metal album, while the following title track steps on the pedal again and also brings in a few choir vocals, which are used very tastefully, incredibly catchy, a melody/chorus that you’ll hum or even sing along even hours later!
That is a recurring element of "Anima Mundi", extremely catchy and high standing song writing, which further benefits from the clear and powerful production from Studio Kuling in Ólibru (while the song does not tell me anything, I did a quick research on the internet and I found out that it is the Swedish town of Örebro, while most colleagues just took Ólibru for granted ;), as everything is put into the right sound. I also have to mention the track "March For Freedom", this is truly epic and big without exaggerating or drowning in pomp, majestic and most of all good, quite some “bigger” band would lick all ten fingers for one of these, no kidding!
What I really like with DIONYSUS (by now) is not only the very mature, but not stale song writing, but the will to diversify, to take out the tempo and put more emphasis on the atmosphere than never-ending heaviness, which does “Anima Mundi” good and helps the German/Swedish co-operation at least partly to stand apart. All are masters of their respective instruments and it really is about time that Olaf Hayer gets the attention he doubtlessly deserves, because he really is one of the best (not only) Power Metal singers out there, who does not always have to go into the highest of pitches, but can deliver in a powerful, but still clear voice.
DIONYSUS hardly will be able to convert those to Power Metal, who did not like it before, but who has a certain soft spot for this sound should be convinced by “Anima Mundi”, I definitely am! (Online March 1, 2004)