Monday, April 23, 2012


Arkeyn Steel Records

Dragonsclaw hail from Sydney, Australia. The band was formed in 2007 by guitarist Ben Thomas (Paindivision, ex-Thundasteel as well as a guest spot in Empires of Eden) with this, their debut album, just now being released. It actually took the band from 2007 to 2010 just to get a stable line up in place. Along with Ben's technical guitar skill the rest of the band is now being rounded out by fellow Paindivison member Ray Martens (keyboards), Giles Lavery (vocals) and (of Kaamora fame) Aaron Thomas (bass, guitars, orchestration). Guest vocals on select tracks come from the legendary Blaze Bayley (Iron Maiden, Wolfsbane) and keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio (Edge Of Forever, Eden's Curse). Musically this ten track debut LP sounds really out of place with modern metal. Of course I mean that in a good way. This album seems to be aimed more towards those of us who grew up on a steady diet of 80’s power metal versus today's modern metal that adheres to the "everything and the kitchen sink" mentality when it comes to writing music. Even so it must be said that while there will be much for eighties metal fans to enjoy about "Prophecy" (since even the production job has the feel of an eighties heavy metal album thanks to Stu Marshall's capable hands) the sound still packs quite a wallop. Dragonsclaw should have no problem competing with the hordes of newer metal bands clamoring for a spot atop the hill of modern traditional heavy metal. The group's sound, while certainly rooted in traditional US heavy metal/power metal of the eighties, does vary somewhat song to song as you get the sense that Ben Thomas and company are fans of the genre just like the rest of us. I would not call this retro-worship or lump Dragonsclaw in with the rest of the NWOTHM crowd as theirs is a slightly more mature outing. The album brings to mind so many different bands throughout it's ten tracks and what's more at any given moment you can pick up influences from the likes Eden's Curse, Judas Priest, Jag Panzer, early Satan's Host, Helstar, Symphony X, Iron Maiden, early Kamelot and even early Helloween. The one thing that can be said about "Prophecy" is that it isn't boring. Guitarist Ben Thomas has assembled a project that gets right to the heart of what makes traditional heavy metal/power metal so appealing to begin with. With Dragonsclaw your treated to the same sort of true heavy metal that groups like Metal Church and Sanctuary were aiming for. Only with these guys there is a decided effort to make the detours into speed metal and progressive metal both meaningful and enjoyable. That isn't to say that these ten tracks stack up to either of those Seattle greats. There is still work to be done for this young group to be listed among the greats. All I am saying is that their aim seems true enough. Hopefully Dragonsclaw will prove to be more than just a side-project because as "Prophecy" shows there is a lot of potential for this Aussie band.

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