Dragonsclaw - Judgement Day

Dragonsclaw - Judgement Day

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(CD, Killer Metal Records, 2013)

I have to admit that I didn’t think very highly of DRAGONSCLAW’s “Judgement Day” when I first opened the CD package. The cover is a bit cartoon-ish and looks pretty much like any average modern Power Metal record. And sure, it is a Power Metal record but I wouldn’t call it average. I really like the dark atmosphere and Heavy Metal influences that are a red thread straight through the album.

But first things first; it didn’t take many seconds to realize my self-inflicted apprehension was quite far off, at least musically. The opening track “Watching My Every Move” set the expectations too high instantly being a very catchy track, heavy and melodic though, and the style is in general leaning more towards Prog / Power (rather than plain Power Metal) which is a big plus for my world. “Onset Of War” is a short instrumental piece to introduce the title track (shouldn’t it have been “Judgment Day” instead?) which is a quite massive Metal track (not fully as strong as the opening track though).

The song that follows, titled “Bullet” actually brings on mixed emotions, while I think it is one of the best on this record. It is heavy and melodic at the same time, also a bit faster than the first ones and it does sound a lot like ICED EARTH, Ripper-era... too much? Keeping in mind how damn good the song is and that it’s not stolen, just influenced, so I am buying this one. “Fly: Defenders Of The Skies – Part II” clocking over seven minutes and holds both heavy and mellow passages is another album highlight. I really like it when there’s a kind of creativity on a record, that it’s not just verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus kind of tracks. The fateful and dramatic part in the middle before the second half of the song has the same feel as IRON MAIDEN’s “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”. How can that fail??? Then, when the song kick-starts again, I really got goose-bumps all over. To cover WARLORD’s “Lucifer’s Hammer” seems fair since vocalist Giles Lavery actually is a part of the live line-up of WARLORD these days. Still, I would rather have had an additional original since this record is as good as it is.

Flipping through the booklet I saw a familiar face in one of the pages; RIOT’s furry white seal appeared in one of the illustrations. Again, judging too fast, I thought it was a bit B-ish. Seeing the title, “Battle Cry” I thought "another cover?" But no, this is a tribute and I would absolutely have gotten that if I’d listen to the record before checking the booklet. It is a fun song, a tribute to RIOT and a lyric that’s built on the titles of RIOT albums - really cool I’d say. Still, I wonder how DRAGONSCLAW could settle with the vocal performance on this track when everything sounds merely perfect else. Take “Bullet” which has extremely high pitched vocals both regular and falsetto and it is flawless. In “Battle Cry” it feels kind of forced, insecure and almost off key at occasions. So that was kind of a setback for “Judgement Day”. Also, listening to the album in my stereo in a rather average volume, it felt kind of flat; for some reason it feels like everything is on the same frequencies and the guitars drown among keyboards, bass and drums. It got a lot better when cranking it up in my car but you can’t count on people to play a record on 100dB constantly. So that being said, the production was another setback.

Still, I really like DRAGONCLAW’s second album “Judgement Day”; these Aussie guys are on to something really good and it was a great pleasure to dig into it. So, don’t do like me and judge this album too fast and flip by it in the bin. If you’re into Heavy Metal, this is a good one.

7/10 


Links:

www.DragonsclawBand.Com
www.MySpace.Com/TheDragonsclaw
www.FaceBook.Com/DragonsclawOfficial
www.Twitter.Com/DragonsclawBand


Tracklist:

01. Watching My Every Move
02. Onset Of War
03. Judgement Day
04. Bullet
05. Fear
06. Fly: Defenders Of The Skies – Part II
07. Lucifer’s Hammer
08. Battle Cry
09. Eternally


Lineup:

Giles Lavery - Vocals
Ben Thomas - Guitars
Aaron Thomas - Bass, Guitars, Orchestration
Ray Martens - Keyboards
Alcides "Seed" Stowe - Drums