DREAMTALE: Oceans Heart CD PROMO [A pinnacle for power metal excellence]. Check audio


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A pinnacle for power metal excellence. – 98%

Despite the fact that there are many generic sounding acts coming out of the power metal genre these days, there are still some that manage to impress both with the same formula that has brought acts like Stratovarius and Freedom Call to greatness, but also to keep a fresh sound that is all their own.

Dreamtale seems to have gained some influences from their fellow Finnish metal comrads Nightwish, whom dabble with similar keyboard ambiences and textures, but take a more power and less gothic approach to storylines and imagery. The comparison also makes a bit of sense considering that Marko Hietala of now Nightwish fame made an appearance on their first album.

As a whole, Dreamtale forms a very tight musical thread that consists of 2 excellent guitarists in Rami Keränen and Mikko Mattila who put out some very memorable and intricant riffs. Turkka Vuorinen provides the keyboard atmosphere that acts almost as a dense haze for the listener to lose himself in. Drummer Pete-Rosenbom and Bassist Pasi Ristolainen provide a tight rhythm foundation and also stand well as individual players.

The only thing inconsistent about this band has been their vocal talent. Each of their albums has a different lead vocalist, each with a very unique sound, differing greatly from the others. But oddly this band has been lucky that all 3 of their vocal frontmen were equally well suited for the sound of the group, each in his own unique way. Although I must say that Tomi Viiltola, who sang on this album, is my personal favorite.

This album is a very interesting take on the concept story, which has become very common with this style of album. It tells of a great city of gold that was built near a great sea, carrying a curse of a great evil that was prophecized to bring about it’s destruction and all who dwelled in it. Though the stereotypical theme of good versus evil is obviously present, I don’t see a problem with it. It’s a real struggle that stays with us both in the realm of reality and that of dreams. Now here is my breakdown of each song.

Ocean’s Heart (10/10) – The overture for the coming metal opera contains a dark percussion drone underneath a mystical blend of strings and the deep voice of a narrator that tells the history of the Ocean’s Heart, where a great evil is destined to emerge. True to the function of an intro, this prelude grabs the listener’s attention and prepares them for what is to come.

Chosen One (10/10) – With the speed that makes the genre of power metal exciting, and the virtuosity of all it’s band’s members fully exploited, this is an instant classic that would be fun to sing along with, if it wasn’t so difficult to sing range-wise. Such classics as Judas Priest’s Ram it Down and Iron Maiden’s Aces High popped into my head. Though this has keyboards and plenty of them.

Angel Eyes (10/10) – The intro is extremely catchy, almost to the point of being cliche, but it’s mid-tempo simplicity melts away into another classic power metal track that cooks quite well. Unlike it’s predecesor this track switches tempo, and does so quite smoothly. In this one the guitars are a bit more active and the keyboards act more as support. But the vocals are very dominant, and back up vocalist Sanna Natunen provides an occasional counter-melody to Tomi’s driving lead. A definite keeper.

Fool’s Gold (9/10) – A mid-tempo song that reminded me a bit of times of early Helloween classics like I Want Out. Sanna and Tomi harmonize together nicely on the chorus, making it one of the high points of this song. The only real weakness this song has is the lack of a change in feel, it tends to coast at times. But an excellent keyboard solo and some brief lead work keep it from being boring.

Two Hundred Men (10/10) – This one enters in sounding like something straight out of Nightwish’s golden age of Oceanborn and Wishmaster. Light synth voices and a haunting pan flute melody give it an almost electronic/folk feel at the beginning. But this suddenly gives away to a driving up tempo battering ram that reminds me almost of a Lost Horizon song. Tomi’s vocals are really exciting on this track, and the mix of voices on the chorus is almost like an electric Bach chorale. Nice shredding guitar solo with a melodic edge puts a final bit of icing on the cake. This song fades out as it fades in, with the opening theme that gave a serene picture of harmony, before the agitated anthem of the elite guards of the king.

The Awakening (10/10) – Beginning with a fast guitar/keyboard riff that would make Malmsteen proud, this song flies with the same speed and energy as Chosen One, but carries a much denser vocal texture. Sanna provides the most beautiful vocal harmonies behind Tomi’s driving lead vocal line, set over a progression including a rapid synth arpeggio line that sounds like a raging waterfall. The middle of this song sees the entrance of a more thrashy and harsh sounding voice that assumes the role of the evil that has been unleshed upon the city of gold. This one is tied for my favorite song with one other track that comes a bit later.

Tears (9.5/10) – Another song that sounds Nightwish influenced, particularly in the keyboard sound, which is similar to the sound that caused me to fall in love with Oceanborn’s bonus track “”Sleeping Sun””. This song functions as a charming duet between Sanna and Tomi, further providing common ground with the Nightwish sound. A bit down-tempo compared to previous tracks, but still has a good energy. The harsh voice of evil is also present in this track, set to a darker sounding music, but oddly I found myself wanting a slighly heavier guitar riff like the one that accompanied the rough voice in the track before this one. All around good song, especially for the vocals.

Gardens of Eternity (10/10) – Another fast one with a good intro, but with some really good tempo changes. Sanna and Tomi continue their beautiful and haunting harmonic duet, sometimes singing in unison which is a neat vocal effect between two very different voices. Another fine guitar solo complements this one nicely.

My Only Wish (10/10) – The lowest tempo song on the album so far. This song actually reminded me of classic Dio at times, particularly the guitar riffs. And the Nightwish like synths are also present alot in this one. Tomi now utilizes more of his middle range, which is surprisingly thick and husky in comparison to many of the high pitch screams he let out on the faster songs. Sanna’s voice is now more of a support voice and less of an equal partner. A good song, and a good balancing act tempo wise to keep it from being a one-dimensional speed fest.

If You Will Go (10/10) – This is an excellent ballad, again utilizing Tomi’s middle and lower range. A nice acoustic guitar intro and a piano paint a serene canvass during the verse, while the electric guitars hold the chorus up to the standard that would do justice to the 80s power ballad. The guitar solos are very melodic, and very moving, and actually remind me of Tom Schultz of Boston in this song. Again Sanna is playing more of a support role, but the harmony parts during the chorus are very beautiful and necessary for the song.

Rising Wind (10/10) – This one reminded me alot of the Heaven and Hell era Black Sabbath glory, but with a much denser keyboard line. A military drum beat gives a feel of a coming battle in the first verse, with only a lone bass to accompany it and Tomi’s thick vocal presence. Loud and soft sections trade off at unusual points, as with the tempo shifts, and the bass and drums are very active as well. This song is undoubtedly a dramatic the build up to the final conflict between the golden city’s forces and the evil force, may the strongest win.

Return to the Sea (10/10) – The grand epic of the album, of a granduer that will be difficult to match by any power metal act. The final resolution has come, the ultimate battle to decide the fates of all. With the triumph of any great battle hymn of this genre, this song goes through many changes, but the one constant is the powerful melodies that work in and out of the dense harmony. And as with any other epics, it carries sections of both fast and slow, utilizing elements of all previous songs to create a giant of a song. The most impressive element is the guitar solo section where 2 guitars battle it out with leads without the aid of addition rhythm guitar tracks. Imagine Bach and Teleman playing electric guitars (if your a Baroque music buff) and you’ll get the idea. Tomi’s voice is at the top of it’s game, sounding it’s greatest during the memorable chorus which is easily one of my top 5 favorites of any band in this genre.

Whisper (9.5/10) – The outro to this album sees the return of the narrator to finish the tale, with a sad yet final conclusion that borderline’s on philosophical thought. The music is very sad, accented by a simple piano line in the upper range that sounds almost like a lullaby. The final lines of this song say it all.

Whisper it to the wind
So shall it vanish
Blow it to the sand
So shall it perish

Song Titles: 1.Ocean’s Heart 2.Chosen One 3.Angel Eyes 4.Fool’s Gold 5.Two Hundred Men 6.Awakening 7.Tears 8.Garden of Eternity 9.My Only Wish 10.If You Will Go 11.Rising Wind 12.Return to the Sea 13.Whisper

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