Dreamland
Exit 49

When I heard Dreamland’s debut Future’s Calling back in 2005 I thought to myself, ‘Damn, this thing is just like a Hammerfall replica from start to finish!’ Admittedly, these guys were a carbon copy of one of the most well known Traditional Metal acts from Sweden, but they were a very good and promising copy anyway, running a strong chance to surpass their teachers before too long. In fact, I still consider that disc to be a very solid debut effort and recommend it to all Hammerfall’s fans whenever the opportunity arises. Unfortunately, their sophomore effort, the full-length Eye For An Eye, fell short of my expectations. In spite of being cut from nearly the same material as the debut, the songs just didn’t prove to be as catchy and inspiring. However, I remained optimistic to see them in a better form the next time.

Two years have passed and what we get with Dreamland of 2009 just doesn’t quite agree with my conception of the direction I would like to have seen the band moving in. Instead of fortifying the Traditional Metal citadel so successfully seized at the start of their career, they fell upon the ideas of modern Power Metal and had a stab in something that is pretty close to the bands like Nocturnal Rites and Thunderstone. Of course, it’s easier to pull down than to build, and as a result the new songs sound as if the guys just don’t feel as motivated any more. Not that this new material is unlistenable, but I just don’t sense the same spark of inspiration in most of the songs, however hard I try. To my mind, some other groups in Sweden, like Her Whisper or Saint Deamon, can do this style far better these days.

I have no doubt this kind of Power Metal calls for some profound sense of melody as well as absolutely impeccable and luxurious arrangements. Regretfully, there is an obvious deficit of both. I don’t know whether someone put a jinx on the band’s ability to compose striking and memorable tunes but I only find several tracks meeting my personal requirements. For instance, I do like the fiery title track and also the highly energetic “Shortest Straw”, since these two offer some pretty interesting guitar licks and even a few growls and screams, thus relieving the overall generic sound of the material. Ironically enough, the album’s two-minute final instrumental “Time To Exhale” comes as the most unexpected and interesting bit here. The collaboration between the bass and plucked guitars is incredibly fascinating and spectacular. If only the guys had been able to keep this level all the way through my reaction to the album would have been quite different.

As a rule, I’m very well-disposed towards Power Metal from Sweden. Moreso, I believe this country offers the best younger representation of the genre at the moment. It is suffice to name Bloodbound, Saint Deamon, Dragonland, Harmony and Her Whisper among others to see that it’s not just empty praise. Alas, Dreamland with their third full-length offering Exit 49 just failed to convince me they deserve equal honors for the time being. I admit it’s not a bad thing to aim for changes and constant progress, but only if you are certain the risk is justified. It sure seems like it’s time for this band to get off this highway and take the exit back to their origins instead.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
October 2nd, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    I’ve listened to this twice so far and I liked it quite a bit when I was listening, but I haven’t been compelled to return to it in the same way as say the new albums by Gotthard, The Order, or The Trophy keep calling me back. A fair review.


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