Sunday, August 20, 2017

Excalion: Dream Alive (2017)

I have been inundated with power metal submissions lately.  Mostly that is due to Scarlet Records being fairly well-known for its power metal releases and they are one of the labels that sends me the most stuff.  This has been a little difficult for me, because power metal is not one of the subgenres that I am well-versed in.  But I am not going to argue.

Like Cryonic Temple and Cellador, Excalion has released their first album this year in several years.  Excalion's hiatus dates back to 2010.  Excalion is a Finnish power metal band.  The most well-known Finnish power metal bands are Nightwish, Battlelore, Battle Beast, Wintersun, and Children of Bodom.  So those were the reference points for me going in.  Which proved to be absolutely worthless, because Excalion does not sound like any of them.  Instead their sound is much more of an epic, bombastic power metal sound more similar to groups like Sonata Arctica.  That works for me.  I have made my affinity for early Sonata Arctica very clear on this page.

The songs are typically driven by keyboard melodies, with rhythmic riffs played underneath the melodies.  The music tends to not be terribly aggressive.  It is much more melodic.  The highlight throughout is the impressive vocal abilities of singer Marcus Lång.

The first three tracks are mid-paced, and while they are certainly impressive, they are ultimately a little forgettable.  However, the fourth and fifth songs kick things up a notch and instantly grab the listener's attention.  Excalion seems to be one of those bands, like the aforementioned Sonata Arctica, that does their best work when playing at faster speeds.  As the album continues, some of this energy is lost and the music suffers somewhat as a result.  The band does kick things back into gear for the last few tracks.

This is an extremely impressive album when Excalion is speeding through songs.  The slower songs are undoubtedly played well, but just do not have quite the same effect as the faster-paced songs.  It may lack some of the aggression and intensity of other power metal albums, but it is very impressive musically.

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