Thornbridge – Daydream Illusion (Massacre Records)

Monday, 25th March 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Previously under this writer’s attention in an older Rapid Fire column for their last album Theatrical Masterpiece back in early 2019, German act Thornbridge lives for a stirring power metal style that encourages lots of audience participation. Daydream Illusion is the latest record for the band – at the time recorded as a trio, Jörg ‘Mo’ Naneder taking on the bulk of responsibilities as vocalist, bassist, piano, keyboards, and acoustic guitarist, while Patrick Rogalski tackled lead/rhythm guitars and Nils Kruel performed on drums. A conceptual effort about a boy aiming to save his imaginary world from destruction and violence occurring in his real life, the questionable / inhuman healing methods (plus surgeries) take place in a Victorian-era mental asylum – with the eleven tracks traversing a catchy / aggressive platform, mirroring the melancholic lyrics while being adventurous and potent when necessary.

The brighter guitar harmonies Patrick executes often carry a bit of Brian May-ish/ Queen charm beyond the obvious Teutonic reference points (a little Blind Guardian here, a touch Orden Ogan there). There’s an acceleration factor when it comes to the proper pacing of this record – featuring numerous anthems of a mid-tempo to slightly faster variety, these musicians also excel at when to place the timely, emotionally/theatrically-driven power ballad. That’s where “Send Me a Light” comes in, the additional howls as well as piano/orchestration setting the stage for Jörg’s softer melody approach in the verses building up the choir-fueled chorus to a tremendous payoff. The marching power riffs create instant connectivity to the quality audience intended – most will be hard pressed to not headbanging relentlessly to the gallops awaiting the unison choir vocal passages to “Bird of Salvation” or “I Am the Storm”. Thunderous drumming galvanizes “Sacrifice” – the churning rhythms and subsequent multi-layered background vocals ideal for those who miss Somewhere Far Beyond-era Blind Guardian along with To The End-period Orden Ogan. The extra flavoring of Viking/Folk-like melodies, unifying interplay between the threesome in key intros/transitions, as well as the thoughtful mixing/mastering of Sebastian ‘Seeb’ Levermann (Orden Ogan) ties the effort up professionally – where most will probably circle back to the first song immediately after the final acoustic lines for “Lost On the Dark Side” fade away.

We all know that Thornbridge takes huge inspiration from the veterans of this power metal scene domestically – but it’s what you do with those branches of influence that makes all the difference. In the case of Daydream Illusion, they’ve created an ideal record that most power metal followers should have no trouble adding to their collections.

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