This fifth album by Brazilian fantasists Dragonheart is one which is truly deserving of the term epic – as not only does it clock in at a little under the hour mark (which is pretty long by today’s attention-deficit-seeking standards) but it marks the completion of a trilogy which the rainforest-based warriors commenced almost 15 years ago: in fact, it has been a full decade since the last instalment, ‘Vengeance In Black’ (produced by no one else less than Tommy Hansen) saw the light of day. The story of the band in between releases has been almost fantastical as the albums’ collective tale, as it is one of financial impropriety, record and management companies going mysteriously bust…
Now, not being familiar with the first two parts of this sequence – which, by all accounts, seem to have been deleted – your humble reviewer has no choice but to judge this particular offering on its own merits… And I must declare that it is not a bad slice of faux-medieval folk/power metal: certainly, it ticks all the right boxes in terms of bravura and overblown pomposity – and even sinks to moments of true ridiculousness (such as on the truly cringe-worthy ‘Marching Under The Stars’) – delivered with panache and commitment.
Musically, the album has more merits than demerits – which, I suppose you could argue, is half the battle for any band. The performances are strong, the songs, by and large, clatter along at a rousing canter, and the melodies and harmonies are both strong, with some decent hooks thrown in for good measure. Add in the fact that vocalist André Mendes has a suitably edgy darkness to his delivery, which counterparts the denseness of the riffs almost perfectly, and the result is an impressive slice of classic, fantasy-based progressive power metal, and which should appeal to fans of Sabaton in particular.
With ‘The Battle Sanctuary’ having been picked up by the Cyprus-based metal flag-carrying Pitch Black imprint, maybe the first two parts of this trilogy might get a re-release so that it can be judged as a complete package. In the meantime, starting the story at the end seems as logical a place as any to begin this particular tale…
Tracklist: Far From Heaven… Close To Hell / Black Shadow / Arcane’s Palace / Inside The Enemies / Forged In Metal / Battle Lines / Marching Under The Stars / Circle Of One / Kill The Leader / The Battle Sanctuary / Time Will Tell
Recommended listening: The Battle Sanctuary
‘The Battle Sanctuary’ is out now on Pitch Black Records.