Bloodbound - War of the Dragons

Bloodbound War of the Dragons cover
War of the Dragons
AFM Records
At time and through their seven album career, current one inclusive, Bloodbound have released some pretty amazing albums (“Nosferatu” immediately comes to mind) and produced a couple of incredible duds (“In the Name of Metal”, immediately springs to mind), which was the unfortunate debut of current vocalist Patrick Johansson, as he couldn’t even save that album from suckage…
While a pretty great fit for the band’s overall sound and a good vocalist in general, Pata’s only really good album sadly is the previous “Strormborn” that played the mid tempo Judas Priest inspired power metal card to its chest. For some reason unbeknown to us, the band decided to almost single-handedly change that template with a cheesy Europower one that brings the lesser albums of Blind Guardian, Helloween of Deris era and Rhapsody, when they changed the name to mind… ie not so good.
Johansson is mixed lower this time and despite his valiant efforts can barely antagonize the over-loud drums, which unfortunately are not too imaginative either and the continuous multilayered and extravagant keyboards and guitars soundscapes that create a mix that sounds “90s” in a bad way, without the songs being anywhere close the brilliance of some material that came out during that decade, and by no fault of his own, as his performances are pretty damn spot on.
In fact is seems as if the band tried too hard to lose any character they might have had and instead opted to copy the style of Sabaton and to a lesser degree their ex-members in Civil War, by creating some cheesy metal mixed with a generic “heroic/medieval theme” as popularized by bands like Rhapsody, but ended up failing to sound as polished as they should have to pull it together.
While it’s not a “total shitstorm” with the occasional chorus, verse or guitar part being neat, finding a song that’s enjoyable from start to finish and actually sounds any good and not like a mastered demo, takes a bit of an effort.
Battle in the Sky” has by some annoying trumpet key sounds that spoil the vocal mix. Maybe a decent enough mix would have helped out, but a lot of parts end up sounding like a “vuvuzela” is mixed along with the vox.
These offending keys that appear far too often plague “Tears of a Dragonheart” for which Turilli should probably issue a restraining order for copying too many images and words off, from Rhapsodies earlier releases…
War of Dragons” tries to be a self-contained symphony – after a copy/paste intro it goes through a variety of parts like clockwork, with orchestra hits aplenty, but it both feels a little bloated and leaves you with a bit of a dejavu feeling. Fells like I’ve heard this before… on some other CD...
Silver Wings” has an intro that feels like it belongs to a Bon Jovi song with a bit of bad Blind Guardian/Rhapsody, complete with folk melodies it goes into soloing and then back to the shanty like melodies, truly pleasant in places, but also pretty messed up if you look at it as a whole…
Stand and Fight” had me reaching for my baby-oil to prepare myself for “battol” and all that and Johansson even attempts to convince you with one of his strongest deliveries on the entire album, but the cheap key sounds spoil thing up yet again. And damn... “mom where did I leave my mjonlir?”…
“King of Swords”, after some more dodgy keys that feel quite out of place, sounds awesome and reminiscent of one of Pata’s better performances “Satanic Panic” from “Stormborn”. At least it does so, before it goes the way of Beethoven’s 6th: ie Pastoral occasionally remembering to reprise the priestly bits. Simply the best song on the album, which makes you scratch your head about this “change” in direction towards the lands of Cheddar!
Fallen Heroes” has so many Sabaton-ques that I find it even cute, but rather annoying… thankfully Johansson is a singer and not a jumping clown like Brodin, but even he can hardly make this song sound as it should.
Guardians at Heaven’s Gate” quotes possibly the best power metal band ever, but unfortunately bears little if any semblance to them… it’s more of that generic Sabatonesque metal (which in turn is bad Manowar) with a nice solo thrown in along with the kitchen sink.
Symphony Satana” seems like something that started differently and then was re-cast to fit; this bad “Rhapsody/Sabaton” hybrid, as bombastic as the latter rhythmically and lyrically trying to copy the former, coming pretty close, but not managing to light up the proverbial cigar.
Starfall” sounds a little better, with a chorus that’s not too bad, but an overall feel borrowed from a band like mid-era Kamelot, in a mix that hardly fits together.
Dragons are Forever” sounds like a dodgy joining of the Pokemon title song, Rhapsody and Helloween at their happiest in a way that really sounds too much like bad Dragonforce (as if there are too many Dragonforce songs that I could listen to without cringing)…
Even with all its faults “War of the Dragons” is a fairly decent album, by a great band, but the stylistic departure and change in sound and tone makes this one sound derivative and generic, almost as if it came out of a “generic power metal generator”.
It feels like a definite goof that could backfire at the band and I really hope that they quickly snap out of their Sabaton and Rhapsody vigil, to deliver some darker sounding material, which is what made people rightly love them for...