Bloodbound – War of Dragons (AFM Records)Monday, 20th February 2017
Certain themes resonate in specific sub-genres of metal. Just as anti-religious or violent themes matter in the extreme facets, so do battles, wars, and fantasy/mythology topics for power metal. Bloodbound has maintained a steadfast approach to this genre, amid numerous singer swap shuffles (Urban Breed in twice, Michael Bormann, now Patrik J. Selleby since 2011’s Unholy Cross), gaining confidence touring with heavyweights such as Sabaton, Hammerfall, and U.D.O. among others. Following up their live DVD/CD One Night in Blood from last year, it really shouldn’t be shocking that War of Dragons contains a lot of uplifting power riffs, majestic melodies, and lyrics surrounding swords, fighting, guardians… and well, dragons.
Even though the lineup contains two guitarists to one keyboardist, it’s apparent throughout that Fredrik Bergh has as much (if not) more importance to the musical underpinning of these 12 tracks through his prominent ivory tinkling and symphonic layers. You’ll certainly still hear marching guitar strains that galvanize the troops – check out “King of Swords” and the speedy closer “Dragons Are Forever” for Tomas and Henrik Olsson’s axe fury – but it’s obvious from the main hooks in “Battle in the Sky” and the folk-nuanced “Silver Wings” that Bloodbound move forward in Sabaton-ish flames of bright, dramatic splendor. Patrik’s capable gliding and ascending melodies often provide another echoing sentiment to the musical proceedings – matching the focus while unleashing some superior screams on “Stand and Fight” beyond his Tobias Sammet-oriented delivery.
The band’s evolvement from being more of a Maiden/Helloween-esque power metal band in the early Nosferatu discography to their current Hammerfall meets Powerwolf/Sabaton sound can be beneficial for some while possibly cause others to check out. It’s a dangerous slope as Bloodbound wishes to sustain headline status – as such War of Dragons has commendable material that is fairly predictable in where things take place for choirs, keyboards, narrative elements and hooks. To these ears, the previous Stormborn effort has more staying power, but consumers have the final say (especially if they support with their wallets) – so we’ll see what happens in the coming months and years.