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Savage Circus - "Dreamland Manor" (CD)

Savage Circus - "Dreamland Manor" CD cover image

"Dreamland Manor" track listing:

1. EvilEye
2. Between The Devil And The Sea
3. Waltz Of The Deamon
4. Tomorrowland
5. It - The Gathering
6. Beyond Reality
7. When Hell Awakes
8. Ghost story
9. Born Again By The Light

Reviewed by on June 7, 2006

"If the question is why would a member of a successful, damn near legendary Power Metal band, quit and start over from scratch with a new project, then the answer is Savage Circus, 'nuff said."

If the question is why would a member of a successful, damn near legendary Power Metal band, quit and start over from scratch, then the answer is Savage Circus, 'nuff said. This outfit was founded by drummer Thomen Stauch of Blind Guardian fame, who wanted to get back to the sound Blind Guardian had possessed on earlier albums. He put together an amazingly powerful yet tastefully subdued quartet from the ranks of other power metal alumni - Piet Sielck of Iron Savior on guitars and bass, Jens Carlsson of Persuader as lead vocalist, and also from Persuader guitarist Emil Norberg.

Fans of Blind Guardian and Demons & Wizards, will appreciate their debut album entitled "Dreamland Manor," which is a beautifully crafted power metal masterpiece that can even be appreciated by non-power metal fans. The band has managed to capture all of power metal's strong points and leave out a lot of its major weaknesses. For one, they have stripped out a good 85% of the sometimes over-the-top cheesiness that has plagued the genre, and what's left is a solid well written album that brims with grandiose arrangements and Maiden-like embellishments. The guitar parts are tasteful, and the vocal harmonies are amazing. The guitar parts display a great level of talent and an even greater degree of restraint allowing the music to not only be technically proficient, but to also not be overshadowed by overdone lead work that does not fit ( an art not practiced by the vast majority). Don't be misled into believing that there isn't extraordinary guitar work on this album because there is, it's very melodic and in conjunction with the harmonized lead lines and riffs it gives a slightly Iron Maiden feel to the album during the solo sections.

The album opens with the double bass galloping energy filled intro to "Evil Eye". This track has a great chorus, and the iron maidenesque guitar harmonies mentioned above. the pace is now set for the audible stage show to come, and they deliver their set in brilliant fashion, from the album's first chord until the ending droning drum parts of "born Again By The Light".

The hot spots on this album are "Between The Devil And The Sea." The guitar and keyboard intro though not complicated, adds an awesome texture to the track. It's dark and melodic feel will entice fans of Demons & Wizards, but though the feel may be the same it is not a mere copy of or a rip of D & W. It also contains a vocal break that adds even more flavor to this very grand open sounding track. "Waltz Of The Demon" starts with an acoustic guitar intro coupled with a vocal arrangement that is unbelievable. It has a kind of old school Blind Guardian feel once it gets going, although the main guitar riff I believe is a little darker than blind Guardian's usual six string assault. the solo section still screams Maiden on steroids, but that is pretty much the guitarist's style (solo-wise) for the majority of the album. "Tomorrowland" really shines at from about 3:26 to 5:15. Prepare to be floored by the musicianship and tasteful melodic structure of the guitar parts, which segue into a dark vocal bridge section before jumping back into the traditional Power Metal chorus. Finally, the ballad like "Beyond Reality" weaves a slightly atmospheric ambiance with it's acoustic guitar, piano, and keyboard framework. The band effectively uses these tools to set the mood for this dark and brooding, vocally embellished soundscape.

Savage Circus's "Dreamland Manor" may at first listen seem like your normal average Power Metal band. But stop, get comfortable in a quite room, and slowly digest this album piece by piece. I am confident you will find, as I did, that underneath the skin it is a beast of a totally different breed - a band that doesn't necessarily follow the sometimes cookie cutter pattern format of songwriting that some Power Metal bands fall into. This band is a tasteful blend of power metals past (Iron Maiden) coupled with it's current pioneers (Blind Guardian) to produce what may well be Power Metals future.

Highs: This album has well written songs, combined with great guitar work, that retains a tasteful quality to it.

Lows: All in all It was a great album, but i would have liked to have seen a little more diversity.

Bottom line: This album is a perfect marriage of solid songwritting, Metal aggression (though not extreme) and Power Metal charm.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)