Italian veterans Dragonhammer are back with their first album in half a decade, and their fifth in total since forming at the arse end of the last century. And, although the album’s title refers to part of the concept of the record, it could almost be seen to represent the actual band itself, as the sextet finds half it’s number different to last album Obscurity.

A new start of sorts them but there’s no need to worry if you’re a long term fan of the band – the most important theme, the music, remains largely the same, with the band continuing to plough that peculiarly Italian furrow of slightly histrionic, symphonic power metal.

That said, the best track here is the heartfelt, dramatic ballad Fallen Brother, where new vocalist Mattia Fagiolo really gets to stretch out and show what he can do – which is quite a lot – backed by heroic, heart-tugging strings in best Rhapsody (of Fire) fashion. You’ve heard it all before, yes, but when it’s executed as well as this that really doesn’t matter.

Silver Feathers, superb guitar solo aside, doesn’t fare quite so well, with the closing gang vocals misfiring slightly, but when the band stick to the basics – basic being a relative word here given the baroque levels of florid musical achievement to be found on virtually every song – there’s little that can go wrong. Second Life adds a pomp rock edge to the mix that is pretty irresistible, with Fagiolo soaring above the guitars of Flavio Cicconi and Alessandro Mancini with real class. Giulio Cattivera‘s keyboard orchestrations are always on point, and never cheesy, whilst the engine room – piston-legged drummer Marco Berrettoni and bass-playing pal Gae Amodio – play their part unobtrusively but with deathless precision.

Closing, cinematic instrumental Ending Legacy is another highlight, but really if your’e already a fan of this kind of music then there’s very little here that you won’t enjoy.

Second Life
releases on November 4th.