Dragonheart - Throne Of The Alliance
HTR Records
True (Power) Metal
13 songs (53:46)
Release year: 2002
Reviewed by Marty
Surprise of the month

There used to be 2 bands called Dragonheart, this particular band from Brazil, and another from England. Since this band was the first to record under this name, the English Dragonheart was forced to change their name and are now known as Dragonforce. There's too many "dragon" bands now anyway....enough is enough. We have Dragonheart, Dragonforce, Dragonland, Dragonlord, Dragonhammer to name a few. If there's a petition going around to halt the use of the word "dragon" in the name for any new band, I'll be the first one to sign it! It gets confusing with so many bands that have similar names all playing heavy metal music and makes it difficult for these bands to establish a unique identity for themselves.

Dragonheart was formed in 1997 and plays classic 80's metal with medieval and classical themes, mixing in some celtic elements as well. Their website describes them as being a Power Metal band. I agree, but I also hear some True Metal elements in their sound. This album Throne Of The Alliance is their second release and the follow-up to Underdark. They have opened for such bands as Nightwish, Vision Divine and Labyrinth in their homeland and have been known to include cover tunes by such bands as Blind Guardian, Grave Digger, Gamma Ray and Accept in their live set. This album was mixed at Finnvox Studios (Stratovarius' studio) and the cover art was done by none other than Andreas Marschall who has done covers for Blind Guardian and Hammerfall.

There's certainly an epic feel to this album and it is based around a central theme or story something along the likes of a Rhapsody -like storyline and even uses narration. I'm not a big fan of narrative tracks on an album unless they are brief and to the point. There are three narrative tracks on this album starting with the first track. We've heard this story before so many times....knights uniting to defeat and enemy in the name of honor and glory etc. etc. and the style and lyrical context of the narrative tracks is very very cheesy.....almost laughable.....sorry guys!!! Aside from that sore spot with me, musically, this is a great album. This band uses some very strong thematic riffing with lots of guitar harmonies and really sounds like a faster and heavier version of Hammerfall. Three of the four band members all contribute to the lead vocals and they use lots of tempo changes and riff changes to keep things interesting and produce some very exciting music.

The Blacksmith is a very Manowar -like True Metal track with a metal anthem like style to the song structure especially with the bombastic chorus style. I know Chris Boltendahl from Grave Digger was involved with this project and I swear I hear his voice on this track and on And The Dark Valley Burns. He certainly appears on the last track, a cover of Grave Digger's Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching) from the Tunes Of War album. An awesome and very heavy version of the classic Grave Digger song. Ghost Galleon contains some Falconer -style celtic elements mixed with fast Power Metal and even borrows a little from Iron Maiden mid song with some very cool thematic riff changes. There's also a bit of a Running Wild type of sound to this track with the drums and the guitar riffs. Blind Guardian influences are heard fast and furiously on Mountain Of The Rising Storm, a very heavy and fast Power Metal song with some amazing riffs and very smoothly executed trempo changes. Keeping on the topic of Blind Guardian, this band gives us their version of a very Bard's Song -like sounding track. Mystical Forest contains celtic rhythms and uses violins, flutes and choruses of voices. A totally acoustic and very epic sounding track.....no marks for originality here though!!!. Hall Of The Dead Knights is another very fast Blind Guardian -like track with bombastic choruses and uses a more Power Metal vocal style. There's a smoking fast guitar/drums interlude mid song that is simply awesome!!!

And The Dark Valley Burns opens with a great thematic guitar harmony riff and also uses some chunky heavy riffing with a galloping rhythmic style. This track is very epic sounding with some cool fast instrumental breaks and I think I hear Chris Boltendahl again.......Sunrise In The Akronis Sky is an interesting track. It features some very speedy Helloween style guitar harmonies and lead breaks and offers a mix of slow pounding metal and fast Power Metal riffs. This song contains lots of different riffs and although some of the instrumental breaks are awesome, the whole song sounds a bit disjointed. It seems as if lots of riffs of all different tempos were simply pieced together.

This is a great sounding band, not too original, but they do a great job and have produced a fine album. They really are a mix of Hammerfall, old Blind Guardian with some Running Wild and Grave Digger influences to their sound. The vocals are good and strong (a couple of weak choruses) and the quality and performance of the music is awesome. The lyrics are pure epic fantasy and they have that killer crunchy heavy sound but combine it with a more Power or True Metal style to produce great quality heavy metal. If you like any of the above mentioned bands then you probably will like this album. There's so many bands like this out there releasing very similar types of metal music. Once in a while, a band like this will stand out amongst all the others as being exceptional and worthy of checking out. This is one of those bands. I expect great things from this band in the future but one thing's for sure......lose the narration!!

Killing Songs :
The Blacksmith, Ghost Galleon, Mountain Of The Rising Storm, Hall Of The Dead Knights, And The Dark Valley Burns
Marty quoted 85 / 100
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