From the soaring highs of Helloween to the gravelly artillery attack of Sabaton and everything in between, we love power metal. Hailing from Italy, Drakkar have recently released their new studio album, Run With The Wolf. Never ones to turn down some questing metal, we felt the need to review it.
In power metal we like songs about marching off to war under banners, some bands have practically made careers over items being held aloft as they go off to war. It was pleasing, therefore, to see the first full track after the intro was called Under the Banners of War. I knew immediately it was going to be a good old fashioned power metal romp.
A vital component of power metal is the chorus. Sure there’s the high vocals or gritty mid-range, there’s the guitar gallops and the questing, often ridiculous, lyrics, but good power metal, proper power metal, absolutely needs a chorus that will get stuck in your head from the moment you wake up until you go back to sleep.
Drakkar tick the chorus box, and the melody box. They might not get stuck in your head first time around, but on a second listen you’ll find yourself whistling moments from Ride the Storm and Gods of Thunder for example.
Run with the Wolf has an air of Deep Purple meets Judas Priest. The keys are pure Purple, while the chorus has a hint of Halford that makes you picture KK and Glenn doing the side to side boogie while Jon Lord solos in the background (enjoy that mental image).
Watcher on the Wall has lyrics that will appeal to pretty much anyone who enjoys the excellent, but infuriatingly slow ASOIAF saga and is but one of the fantasy influences present on this release. The bands Facebook, linked at the bottom, discusses the influence of a gamebook series; Lone Wolf.
Ride the Storm might be my personal favourite from the release. It has the lyrics – “quest for glory….destiny calling,” the upbeat tone, the guitar harmonies. It’s got everything I like about power metal with a good bit of bagpiping for good measure.
Has it been done before? Of course; but there’s still a thirsty audience out there lapping up every bit of power metal they can get their hands on. Us included. What helps Drakkar stay fresh is the organ supporting much of the music rather than standard synth tone or medieval effect that tends to be a standard feature in this genre.
It isn’t just the organ that helps keep Drakkar apart from the herd, it’s the different influences and sounds throughout. Some bands opt for constant speed, others huge epics, some rely on one particular style or influence, yet Drakkar manage to make sure each song is distinct from the last. Obviously they’re still in the same sort of field, otherwise the release would sound disjointed. However, the dark and heavy Burning presents a stark contrast to the Celtic lilt of Ride the Storm, which in turn was different from the straight ahead heavy metal of Watcher on the Wall.
With Southern Cross you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve ended up listening to Thin Lizzy (to the extent I googled to make sure I wasn’t being an idiot by missing a cover – Invincible is also strongly Thin Lizzy inspired, and is of course strongly awesome because of this), it’s this that keeps a listener engaged. Rather than ten tracks of gallops and songs about questing, dragons and castles, Drakkar constantly mix it up, and therefore present a consistently engaging release. Formulas be damned.
With a vocalist who isn’t trying to sound like Michael Kiske or any of his contemporaries, Drakkar are one of the more unique bands in the PM genre. The melodies are catchy, the influences are many and the most important thing, the songs are good. If you’re a power metal fan, or indeed a Thin Lizzy fan, you ought to give Run With The Wolf a moment of your time.
Run With The Wolf is out now via My Kingdom Music, follow the band on Facebook for more.