Messiah's Kiss - Dragonheart
Traditional Heavy / Power Metal
11 songs (45:11)
Release year: 2007
Messiah's Kiss, SPV
Reviewed by Mike

Dragonheart is my first taste of Messiah's Kiss, although this is their third album. Now that vocalist Mike Tirelli is also the lead vocalist for Riot, I made it a point to finally check out this band. Tirelli replaces former Riot vocalist Mike DiMeo, who is now the lead vocalist for Masterplan. Being that Riot is one of my favorite heavy metal bands, I had more than just a passing interest in sampling some of Mike Tirelli's recent work. That's what brings me to the current Messiah's Kiss album, Dragonheart.

From the name of the album, and the artwork itself, you can probably guess what's in store for you. Messiah's Kiss play a brand of heavy metal that leans heavily on 80's greats such as Accept, Dio, Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Judas Priest. There's also a small amount of European power metal thrown in for good measure. Although I enjoy this album, I don't feel that Messiah's Kiss bring forth the very best of any of the aforementioned bands in their music. Bands that currently play this type of metal such as Dream Evil, Wolf, and Machine Men are able to write songs that have lasting value, and even "wow" you as they put their own identity on their traditional heavy metal. Once you hear a song from any of the aforementioned bands, you know exactly what band it is. However, Dragonheart does not deliver enough songs that really grab me, nor does their music take on a unique personality. Don't get me wrong, Dragonheart is a very solid album with a lot to appreciate, but I certainly feel that some work is needed before they make it to the top tier of traditional metal bands in today's scene. As I said, the songwriting doesn't quite grab the listener with authority, nor has the band truly developed their own, unique sound.

There's no doubt at all that the musicians on this album are more than just competent. They sound like experienced veterans of the scene, and furthermore, fans of the particular style of music that they play. The band plays with a high energy level, which translates into a barrage of driving riffs throughout the album, and pounding double bass throughout a good portion of the album. The guitar tone of the album really takes on a classic Accept sound, something that I enjoy a lot during the course of this album. Surely, that has something to do with Herman Frank producing the album and performing all guitar solos. Frank's dynamite solos combined with the busy riffing from start to finish create a very impressive foundation for the songs. Furthermore, the rhythm section is equally thunderous. The drumming frequently ventures into full out, double bass beats that are on par with today's European power metal sound. Bassist Wayne Banks has an authoritative, but not overpowering style that rounds out the bottom end of the end quite well. The hooks and chorus lines are decent, but as I alluded to earlier, aren't exactly the most memorable you'll ever hear in this genre. Babylon, the title track, the very Accept-ish Thunders of the Night, and The Ivory Gates clearly stand out above the others as the true killers of the album. The remaining songs however, have a rather "ordinary" sound to them. The melodies and hooks are bland, and have little to no lasting value. On the other hand, the guitar work (rhythms, solos, and heavy riffing) are spectacular to the point that each song on this album is worthwhile. Also, Mike Tirelli really sings his ass off on this album. His voice is powerful, melodic, and even soulful during a few, select moments of the album. As a Riot fan, I am exciting to hear what he can offer on the next Riot album. But I digress. Tirelli's mid range, slightly gritty voice is perfect for this chains and leather style of heavy metal. He also has a melodic delivery, although I don't feel this particular set of songs brings out the best in that aspect of Mike's voice.

While I would not classify this as an "essential" album in today's traditional metal scene, it's definitely one that has its bright spots and is consistent from song to song. The two major drawbacks that serious restrain my enthusiasm are the songwriting and lack of a unique Messiah's Kiss twist to traditional metal. Ultimately, I think the two will come hand in hand. Once this band deliver an album full of killer songs that beg to be played again and again instead of just a bunch of good songs, Messiah's Kiss will surely be a lot easier to identify. With Dragonheart, the songs mostly pass without embedding themselves into your memory, and therefore, the band's sound itself fails to stand out. Musically speaking, the energy and stellar musicianship are all in place. To my ears, Messiah's Kiss needs to ramp up the songwriting on their next album in order to stay fresh in fan's minds, and to elevate their game to the next level.

Killing Songs :
Babylon, Dragonheart, Thunders of the Gate, The Ivory Gates
Mike quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Messiah's Kiss that we have reviewed:
Messiah's Kiss - Metal reviewed by Danny and quoted 84 / 100
Messiah's Kiss - Prayer For The Dying reviewed by Danny and quoted 82 / 100
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