Tales of Knights and Distant Worlds


When I think of music that embodies sword, sorcery and fantasy, my immediate thought is […]
By Mark Machlay
February 2, 2021
Dreamslain - Tales of Knights and Distant Worlds album cover

When I think of music that embodies sword, sorcery and fantasy, my immediate thought is power metal/speed metal in the vein of BLIND GUARDIAN or HAMMERFALL. While DREAMSLAIN has some of those epic sounding moments, it reflects a much more somber and gritty tone to high fantasy rather than the bombastic ribaldry that an ALESTORM might conjure up. From the exquisite wild country of northern Norway, DREAMSLAIN, a trio of musicians longing for that improvisational feel of the heady 70s progressive rock, snowballing into the epic 80s metal of soaring guitars and synth keyboards with a heavy dose of extreme metal stylings that Norwegian bands are especially known for, they create a sound that is hard to pin down. The band have existed for over a decade, releasing their first demo "Shadow Warriors" back in 2011 and built their song repertoire, piece by piece over the years. It was quite some time before the next release arrived in 2016 with the EP "Tales of War". This was merely stepping stones for the band as they released a pair of singles in 2019 - "Ownership Denied" and "He Who Rises in Force" - to whet their fans appetites for the oversized meal the band would drop with 2021's double album "Tales of Knights and Distant Worlds".

To say that DREAMSLAIN's first major full-length release is ambitious is an understatement. "Tales of Knights and Distant Worlds" is a thick morsel of almost wholly original work. They continue their 70s progressive rock bedrock sound with proto-metal stylings with several turns into long instrumental post-metal interludes with blackened and Pagan medieval lyrical influences, ripe with a Nordic twist that would feel very at home in the grander Norwegian metal scene. It's quite indulgent but that doesn't mean some good music can't come out of such indulgence. Eight grand songs span two discs with a blues-based instrumental bonus track "Memory of Sister Rosetta Tharpe" acting as a final postlude as the curtain falls on the grand production. It's heroic, it's powerful, and it's gritty from the galloping, adrenaline-pumping darkness that is "Shadow Warriors" to the epic and sprawling "Tale of the Copper Guard".

Unfortunately, I have to say, it got a bit of a mixed reaction from me. The album as I received it was presented as one - albeit very long - album. When I discovered it was meant to be two, I thought, there should probably be a bit more meat on this sandwich. The repetitive post-metal instrumental interludes artificially bloat the work and with some much needed cuts, about 10 minutes of mundanity could be excised to easily make this fit on one disc. "My Mask" may be one of the shorter of the "epics" but it is the worst offender. Beating the "hook" into the listener over and over again doesn't make a song better, it makes it unlistenable. "The Fall of the Elven Lord" was a perfect length for the epics at just about 12 minutes and got its point across well. It's a toss-up between that track and the following spacy and otherworldly "Cosmonautics" making it clear that the band can sometimes branch out of the sword and sorcery bit and still grab the listener. The vocals, throughout, however, added almost nothing and couldn't seem to decide on out-of-key, buried-in-the-mix clean singing and growls and roars that lack any real weight that they seem underwhelming. Overall, the music was great, if meandering but the production and vocals need work.

7 / 10









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"Tales of Knights and Distant Worlds" Track-listing:

1. He Who Rises In Force
2. Knights of La Mancha
3. My Mask
4. The Fall of the Elven Lord
5. Cosmonautics
6. Ownership Denied
7. Shadow Warriors
8. Tale of the Copper Guard
9. In Memory of Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Bonus Track)

Dreamslain Lineup:

Ann Loppacher - Keyboards & Bass Pedals
Daniel Paulsen Figenschou - Drums
Igor Jakobsen - Guitars & Vocals

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