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Review: Dragonland - Under the Grey Banner
Under the Grey Banner

Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2011
Duration: 55:55
Tracks: 12
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: January 1, 2012
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Readers Rating
Under the Grey Banner

Rated 3.67/5 (73.33%) (24 Votes)

A new Dragonland album is always a reason to rejoice, especially since that wait this time around was a good five years. I almost didn't expect to this to see the light of day but I'm certainly glad it did. Under the Grey Banner sees Dragonland finally come full circle, the perfect blend of the progressively tinged Astronomy as well as their early days pedaling symphonic power metal as seen on The Battle of the Ivory Plains.

Under the Grey Banner also sees Dragonland return to the high fantasy lyrical content, it's all elves and dwarves, fire and brimstone (pun intended) wrapped up in a symphonic blanket that would have acts such as Magic Kingdom salivating with jealousy. Performances are top notch across the board, but I have to give special mention to Jonas Heidgert, who absolutely owns the material here. Soaring to massive highs, and delivering possibly his best performance to date, Jonas is the undoubted highlight of the album, proving himself as one of the best in the genre (I think he'd be a pretty damn good choice for Kamelot too). On the subject of vocals Dragonland have employed guest vocalist Fred Johanson who helps make the album that extra bit special, sounding suitably epic as the antagonist in the story (see "Fire and Brimstone").

As for everything else, well it's Dragonland doing what they do best. Tracks such as the aforementioned "Fire and Brimstone", "The Black Mare and "The Tempest" show the band at the top of their always impressive game; everything you'd expect from superlative lead guitar playing, excellent melodies, double kicking, and so on so forth is all there. I do think the album loses a little steam towards the end, but they did manage to ditch the Hans Zimmer-worshipping instrumentals from their previous two albums which certainly gives a little more bang for your buck. Luckily the title track ends the album on a high note, quickly quelling any sort of dissatisfaction from the tracks between that and "The Black Mare".

So, despite a slight dip in quality towards the end, Under the Grey Banner still serves as a pretty damn brilliant album. When good, this is without a doubt some of Dragonland's finest material, and even the weaker tracks are still interesting enough to keep you away from the skip button. A definite high point for the band and the genre this year, power metal fans need this.

Other related information on the site
Review: Astronomy (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: Holy War (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Starfall (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Starfall (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Battle Of The Ivory Plains (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: The Battle Of The Ivory Plains (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Under the Grey Banner (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Under the Grey Banner (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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