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Eagleheart - "Dreamtherapy" (CD)

Eagleheart - "Dreamtherapy" CD cover image

"Dreamtherapy" track listing:

1. Insomnia
2. Shades Of Nothing
3. Taste My Pain
4. Lost In The Dead End
5. Creator Of Time
6. Nothing Remains
7. Dreamtherapy
8. Burned By The Sun
9. Glass Mountain
10. Wheel Of Sorrow

Reviewed by on December 5, 2011

"Contains enough stylistic variety to keep casual fans from giving up on the rather clichéd subgenre."

Dedicated non-fans of power metal won’t likely be swayed by “Dreamtherapy” – if they even get past its makers’ band name, which is a BIG “if” – but appreciators of the genre could do far worse than give it a spin. And of course, for you Middle-earthlings who eat this stuff for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Czech act Eagleheart’s sophomore release is strongly recommended.

For better or worse, the term “power metal” calls to mind some very specific characteristics: sturdy, traditionally informed songwriting; slick, crystal clear production; choral or symphonic backing; and high-range vocals as clean as the Queen of England’s royal bottom. To claim that Eagleheart shies away from any of these genre staples would be dishonest in the extreme. “Dreamtherapy” borrows liberally from Blind Guardian, sparingly from Symphony X, and occasionally from a host of other trendsetting classics such as Helloween, Stratovarius, and Kamelot. What winches them a couple notches above today’s pack is their above-average songwriting, driven in part by an infusion of influences outside (gasp!) the insulated power metal box.

Opener “Shades Of Nothing” is a familiar enough start that rescues itself from utter banality through its top-notch execution. A mostly speedy ride in the vein of Helloween’s “Eagle Fly Free” (and virtually every “fast” power metal song thereafter), it nicely shows off the atmospheric keyboard component and the considerable lead guitar capability. It also offers small glimpses of the relatively left-field musical adventures that help freshen the formula. For instance, “Taste My Pain” boasts a jarring progressive tempo with some serious guitar grind. “Lost In The Dead End,” “Creator Of Time,” and “Glass Mountain” revel unabashedly in the reciprocating pistons of modern chugging. Several others, including the title track, make use of intense machine-gun riffage that could be described as slowed-down thrash. Even the only real Judas Priest worship session, “Burned By The Sun,” is distinguished by such guitar work (the nifty keyboard intro doesn’t hurt, either). Catchy ballad “Nothing Remains” is earnest (and surprisingly heavy) without too much cheese, and the 12+ minute closer “Wheel Of Sorrow” recalls the epic, tempo-shifting title track of Helloween’s “The Dark Ride.”

The whole point here is that while Eagleheart doesn’t exactly fall into the category of “power metal bands for people who don’t like power metal.” This album contains enough stylistic variety to keep casual fans from giving up on the rather clichéd subgenre – and enough tribute to classic form to delight its loyal devotees in continental Europe, Middle-earth, and elsewhere. Also, the songs themselves are really quite good.

Highs: "Nothing Remains," "Dreamtherapy," "Wheel Of Sorrow," and elements of "Creator Of Time" and "Burned By The Sun."

Lows: "Shades Of Nothing," while solidly done, is pretty unimaginative. At least they get the standard stuff out of the way first.

Bottom line: A thoroughly decent modern power metal album that benefits from a little thrash here, a lot of chug there, and a strong sense of melody.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)