Label: Self released
Date: August 18th, 2022
An epic power metal newcomer from Finland? I feel like I should be somewhere in the mid 1990’s, but I’m not. On the other hand, this type of band should be a daily occurrence in the land of a thousand lakes, yet I haven’t heard anything new from up there for what seems to be a better part of a decade. Then again, I might just be ignorant to a genre that basically placed Finland on the global heavy metal map. Hell, I’ve even stopped following what Stratovarius had to say, ever since Mr. Tolkki left the band. And I was a die-hard member of “Legions of the Twilight”.
Still, all that has nothing to do with Dragon Throne. One needs to start telling the story of this band with a moniker that just screams cliché. The logo, however, calls attention to ancient China. And now they’ve got my attention. You must admit that this ever-giving civilization is undeservedly left out of the heavy metal lyrical themes.
Needless to say, I got my hopes up. I could’ve even lived with all the musical clichés being abused throughout the record, but a novelty regarding the topic covered promised me a grand time with Dragon Throne.
But I was in for a disappointment. Whatever Chinese connotations the band’s logo brought to the table, the song titles dissipated almost immediately. Though Dragon Throne are dealing with a lot of Asian mythology, history and culture, they are focusing on the Middle Eastern territory. Persian and Mesopotamian lands, to be precise. And those are not quite uncharted territories for metal bands.
Yet, there was still a chance that this record could be salvaged from ruins of unimaginative approach.
Music could do the trick, so I went for the “play” button. True, what I expected (i.e. a whole lot of clichés) was mostly what I’ve gotten. Everything that made power metal what it was back in its heyday. That’s not necessarily bad for Dragon Throne. Remember, they are newcomers and “Dawnbringer” is basically their first serious creative output. So, a degree of imagination lost is to be expected. That’s what the demo takes are for, though bands nowadays rarely opt for a tryout prior to stepping full on into a whirlwind of hyper production.
Okay, I will stop the “old guy rant” now and get to the point of this review. And that is Dragon Throne, their sound and impression they give out. Let me first try and sort out their influences.
As any power metal band ever, Dragon Throne originates from the melodic prowess of Iron Maiden. Then they toughen it up with a “macho” approach that made early Dream Evil and Sabaton the powerhouses they are. On the epic side of things, Dragon Throne returns to Iron Maiden. “Powerslave” in particular, exploiting Middle Eastern twists and turns to their advantage. They do not abandon the German idols either. Grave Digger, to be exact. Check “Serpent King” for best example. However, that’s not all.
The songs on “Dawnbringer” grow in stature with pompous, symphonic keyboard pieces which mostly handle subtle background, but still manage to make a significant footprint on the whole. The quintet is careful to stay metal as much as possible. Hence, the guitars play the most important part of their creation. In that regard, perhaps the solo efforts could use a bit more work to fall into their own place within the songs, instead of being standalone pieces, somewhat detached from the rest. Still, outside the solos, guitars are doing their fair share to make the record as catchy as possible, with creative stature within the band still needing to grow. Also, while I’m pointing out the negatives, the vocal work needs improvement. In delivery, most of all. The tone of voice is fine and there’s much potential to spread its wings way further than it can be heard on “Dawnbringer”. It feels like the singer is holding back his possibilities, for whatever reason. Outcome suffers a bit, though it remains good enough not to distract from the general impression.
Of course, should you not focus too much on individual pieces and take the album as a whole, it could turn out to be a good time. For a power metal fan, definitely, even if the record swarms with obvious, expected solutions. Dragon Throne presents enough ideas with potential for further development on the next release. A bit more patience from the fans and there might be a pleasant surprise in store.
As for the band, nice job. For a debut album.
And, by the way, the closing song doesn’t necessarily need to be a ten minute epic. It can just as well fit in with the average length of other tracks and still remain a strong exit from the recording.