|Dark Illusion – ‘Where The Eagles Fly’ (Battlefield Records)|
|Written by David Whistance|
|Monday, 11 January 2010 18:05|
After a good ole fashioned Christmas of overindulgence accompanied by my own soundtrack of bourbon soaked blues rock, good ole fashioned rock 'n' roll and ummm.... Mariachi, courtesy of Voodoo Urban Machine, The Heavy Metal Kids and El Bronx respectively, it is certainly time to blow away the 2009 cobwebs and work off those recently gained pounds with a rather timely heavy metal workout.
So what better way to kick off 2010, than with some Swedish melodic power metal courtesy of Dark Illusion and their second album, 'Where Eagles Fly'?
Rather astonishingly Dark Illusion was originally formed back in the early Eighties only to split up prematurely a short time later in 1985. In 2003 original guitarists Tomas Hutquist and Niklas Tenglblad decided to reform the band and they seemingly haven't looked back since. 'Where Eagles Fly' quickly follows on from where their 2005 debut 'Beyond The Shadows' left off, albeit a lot less ballad friendly than it's predecessor. Which to these reviewer's ears can only be a good thing. (Apologies to those fans of the softer side of rock/metal, who are no doubt stood aggrieved with their cigarette lighters aloft, waiting to burn me at the stake). Thankfully when Tomas and Niklas decided to resurrect their dream (or Dark Illusion, sorry I couldn't resist that) they brought with them from their humble metal beginnings an almost identikit Eighties sound that is consummately displayed throughout the album, whilst still maintaining a modern edge that is easily accessible to fans of this genre both young and old.
'My Heart Cries Out For You' quickly kicks off proceedings, with frightening musical precision, and features a mighty chorus that celebrates the most anthemic of birds next to the albatross in heavy metal circles that birds being of course, the mighty eagle. 'Land Of Street Survivor' a great song that leaves the gate with a steady momentum finally reaching the chorus where it succumbs to a fantastic, melodic masterpiece with a near perfect refrain, displaying vocalist Thomas Vikstrom vocals to great effect. 'Dark Journey' meanwhile is another great old school stomper featuring everything you want on your metal menu; great musicianship, gung ho vocals, and culminating in some mighty fretwork by both Tomas Hutquist and Niklas Tengblad.
If melodic power metal is your musical preference, then you have received your 'Destiny's Call' with this melodic masterwork.
Rummage through your attics, dig out that old dust laden fancy dress costume and join Dark Illusion at the 'Evil Masquerade' a fantastically old school Dio inspired number. Whether or not this song was written about an insalubrious costume party that the band may have attended or in honour of fellow melodic Danish metal band Evil Masquerade, I cannot confirm, but after all that rummaging and dressing up I'm going for the former.
'Running Out Of Time' and 'Spellbound' prove that these Swedes mean business, with both as near perfect slabs of metal as you'll ever hear, and once again illustrating to the worldwide metal community why our European cousins have kept the metal flags flying so proudly through the dark days, it's in their blood.
My one slight criticism concerning 'Where Eagles Fly' is the vocal style of Thomas Vikstrom. Where as it cannot be denied this man has a great vocal range cutting his teeth in a variety of bands such as Brazen Abbott, Speedy Gonzales, Stormwind and the mighty Candlemass. Thomas has also worked in Musical Theatre in such productions as 'Les Miserables' and 'The Full Monty' as well as some operatic pieces, so there are times during the album where I do find the vocals a touch 'over theatrical'.
This slight gripe aside 'Where The Eagles Fly' overall is a well-accomplished piece of melodic power metal and for that I salute you guys!
Now what's next on the metal fitness programme?