Far Beyond My Dream
It is probably only fitting that if a couple of weeks ago I reviewed Italian band with a moniker of Norsemen, then today Vikings from Germany must be on tap. (I just had to grab Far Beyond My Dream from the pile to be able to open this review with a pun intended stock phrase of sorts). The approach of German duo of Georg Frolich and Pete Eisen is different, however, from what Norsemen had to offer. Instead of going for melodic death/thrash harshness, Vikings stick with no frills power melodic/classic heavy metal combo. Also, it seems that the band has been in existence for a while, so Georg and Pete are probably seasoned veterans, although they were not very productive in their last 15 years.
You can say that Vikings adhere to the basics, but they do it rather well. Relying very much on the hooks, the band hangs their melodies onto mostly mid-tempo rolling scaffold, using expansive guitar tone and not rushed solos (A Glow in Your Hand). Unlike most power metal bands, Vikings use double punch periodically rather than incessantly, although in spots that rhythmic structure overwhelms (Avalon). In Shout My Name one may even recognize some classic Priestian riffs. Georg's voice isn't quite Halfordian, but instead mostly mid-range. He has an interesting habit to enunciate his words really hard, and a few times Vikings are enlisting the help of a shield maiden aka female vocalist (Before the Rain).
When Vikings turn the intensity down a notch they don't necessarily become sappy. Bloody Tears begins with electroacoustic guitar, but fine melody thickens the sound. Reaper Crew is another manly cool ballad, so slower doesn't necessarily mean boring for the band. The album could probably lose a pair of tracks towards the end, The Joker and the Thief and All the Pain do sound a bit like filler, but when you waited 15 years to release an album you must have a lot of material written. The Joker and the Thief also has an alternative rock bent in it, but otherwise Far Beyond My Dream does not have too many missteps.
The most positive feature of the album is the fact almost every song has its individuality and they don't blend together. The chords are biting here, and melodies attract. Punching up a chorus with a timely double bass (title track) or delivering a more pensive melody (Shout My Name), plus solid sound production reveal professional nature of the duo.
Alex quoted 76 / 100
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