Everybody’s favorite dragon-tamers are back! Swedish power metallers Bloodbound have followed up 2017’s War of Dragons relatively quickly with Rise of the Dragon Empire which will be available from March 22, 2019, on AFM Records.
This is the hard-working Swede’s eighth studio album and with a settled line-up (apart from drummer Daniel Sjogren who joined in 2016) they continue to improve and build. Vocalist Patrik Johansson has the big balls needed for this genre and sings superbly, while the twin leads of Tomas Olsen and Markus Albertson rattle along in great fashion. With drummer Sjogren and bassist Anders Broman keeping it honest, the pace and depth are given a helping hand by keyboardist Fredrik Bergh who adds plenty of meat to the (dragon’s) bones.
The album sets off like a rocket with the Celtic-inspired rollicking riffs of the title track. This pace is rarely let up throughout the whole of Rise of the Dragon Empire. Check out the video of the title track below.
Whilst the general feel of the album is traditional metal with a power overlay, it does often include some folkier feeling elements to open tracks, adding to the atmosphere and maturity of this recording, such as on “Slayer of Kings” and “The Warlock’s Trail”. But don’t worry, metal is never too far away.
As is common with Scandinavian power metal, there are gang vocals aplenty and it’s easy to imagine crowds getting into a rowdy singalong but occasionally I feel sorry for Johansson as he seems to play second fiddle for long periods when his voice is often drowned out by the gang.
It’s been said before and I’ll say it again, their image might need a bit of attention. The death mask make-up and Johansson’s horns really are at odds with the music they play, I feel. Having said that, why should I care if they continue to produce top quality metal?
All in all, this latest Bloodbound album delivers, and in style. In all facets, it satisfies the beast, be that dragon or metal fan.