Finns Excalion have been around in some form or another since the turn of the century, but Dream Alive is the first recorded output the public will have been exposed to from the band since 2010. Was it worth the wait?
Undoubtedly yes. Dream Alive is a work of pure old school power metal majesty, bereft of any ‘progressive’ encumbrances, completely lacking in death metal grunts but absolutely packed to the rafters with high-energy, entertaining and involving songs. And on that level, it’s the best record of its kind I’ve heard in a while.
That said, the album is lacking a truly massive standout cut, such are the uniform levels of excellence displayed throughout. The mid-album pairing of Deadwater Bay and The Firmament come closest, the latter in particular being an absolutely dizbusting semi-balladic epic that won’t fail to get the listener involved thanks to superb playing and an awe-inspiring vocal performance from newish vocalist Marcus Lång, but these days an album doesn’t need a ‘hit single’ to make it a classic, so this is just a trifling piece of nitpicking on my part.
The reality is there is not one note wasted on Dream Alive. The seven years it took in gestation was clearly time well spent, the result being an utterly satisfying piece of work that, whilst obviously nodding to Stratovarius, actually surpasses anything the granddaddies of Finnish melodic metal have contributed to the world in many a year. Man Alive is the most Strato-similar of the bunch here, keyboards fluttering, guitars providing a muscular barrage in support and the superb vocals of Lång soaring over the top of it all, whilst Living Daylights also carries a similar pedigree. We’re talking top drawer here.
The non-committed might find it all a bit samey, a bit heard-it-all-before, but dedicated power metal fans will recognise the subtle nuances at play on each track here, and surely appreciate the high calibre performances of all involved. This is the good stuff, make no mistake.
Excalion will release Dream Alive through Scarlet Records on July 7th.