Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Lucid Dreams-Build And Destroy

Red Ball Productions

What's this we have here? A new album from Oslo metal band Lucid Dreams? Well thank you God above for this metallic blessing! With Thanksgiving only a few days away it looks as if I will have plenty to be thankful for this year! Oops, wait just a minute. Does anyone out there besides me remember this classy (and yet criminally underrated) Norwegian band? Yes? No? I'm hoping it's the former, but just in case let's set the stage for "Build And Destroy". It was back in late November of 2013 that I reviewed the self-titled debut album from this fucking skilled hard & heavy/melodic metal group. As you can see here I flat out loved that album! I still do!! That release, which eventually made it's way onto my 55 best albums of 2013 list (and for good reason as it took it's cue from everyone from Bon Jovi and Whitesnake to Dio & Iron Maiden!), made me a instant fan of Lucid Dreams and it eventually lead me to interviewing the group. That memorable album also made me appreciate melodic metal all the more and over the past two or so years I've honestly been wondering when we would hear from this lot again again. A few weeks back I got my answer. First it was in the form of some cool mp3s and then one day out of the blue a signed CD showed up. I'd feel like a creep if I didn't thank the band for both versions of their sophomore album, but rest assured as neither one had any bearing whatsoever as to how I feel about "Build And Destroy". As to why it's taken me so long to get this review? The short answer is life. My life has become far too complicated and busy and it's become more of a challenge to carve out time for this blog. With that said, "Build And Destroy" is too good to to be kept all to myself so I all but have to share the news of this album with all of you. Especially as it is so well-written and every bit as damn good as "Lucid Dreams" is! If only all sophomore albums were this great! I mean how many times have you found yourself loving a group's debut album only for their second release to be pure garbage? Black Tide anyone? How about Stranger? Perhaps even Praying Mantis? All three of the bands issued follow-up albums that were nothing compared to their debuts. Talk about sad second albums! But I digress. Let's talk about the album's technical aspects and then we can get on to the overall sound of "Build And Destroy". This eight song release (which was actually unveiled at the beginning of last October) was produced by one of the band's two guitarists, Rune Gutuen (with Henrik Antonsson serving as the group's other guitarist), and mixed and mastered by Fredrik Nordström at Studio Fredman in Sweden. Compared to the band's self-titled debut this release is about 10 minutes shorter, but at around 37 minutes in length it's still a solid enough amount of material to digest. From a production standpoint Lucid Dream's second album sounds impressively smooth even as it retains a familiar & well loved metal edge. Of the eight numbers on "Build And Destroy" (of which there are no duds!) the shortest one would be "Fear No Evil" (a memorable cut that forges 80's melodic metal with catchy hard rock!) at 3:43 while the longest song is the Queensrÿche-infused "Absence Of Innocence" with it's run-time of 6:36. Incidentally these two numbers are tracks 3 and 4 respectively with the melodic metal masterpiece "Wings Of the Night" serving as the disc's opener and "Eye Of The Storm" (a melodic metal take on Iron Maiden!) closing things out. With a two year gap in-between albums it's of little wonder how tight each of the individual tracks are. From both a performance stand-point and actual song construction that is. Just like on their 2013 debut the musicianship and the songwriting on Lucid Dreams' latest release is second to none. The same goes for the vocal work of Fredrik Sindsen (aka Freddy Vain). Once again Fredrik Sindsen (formerly of heavy metal/hard rock band Trendkiller) moves effortlessly between killer hard rock cuts ("Hellbound" anyone?) and the heavier stuff ("High Heeled Devil" and "Shanghai Cyanide") and he helps add a grandiose vibe to what is already a fantastic metal release! "Build And Destroy" is not only a memorable and downright catchy album, but it's energetic and driven by the same kind of sensational solos that used to be so prevalent back in the heyday of hard rock and melodic metal. Keyboard arrangements come courtesy of  Thorleif Østmoe and he is spot on yet again. For once we find a band that is capable of enhancing the music with such things without ruining the overall metal aspect that really helps drives albums like this. And here's the thing. Lucid Dreams new album "Build And Destroy" is as metal as it gets! In fact Lucid Dreams second album might even be heavier than their first one! Sure enough these Norwegian hard & heavy rockers still pull a part of their sound and style from lighter acts such as Whitesnake and there is the same kind of (early) Queensrÿche/Dream Theatre progressive metal here that I enjoyed on their first disc. But here's the real kicker folks. In addition to the hard rock, melodic metal and progressive metal there is some riff-dropping heavy metal goodness to be found on "Build And Destroy"! Usually it takes the form of Iron Maiden-like metal and I still hear some Dio and 80's-era Judas Priest sneaking in. Thankfully though Lucid Dreams part 2 (aka this eight-track must own CD!) works in homages to early Def Leppard, Dokken, and even Europe's undervalued self-titled album! Lucid Dreams are still kings at taking hard rock, melodic metal and the like and jamming in sharp guitar solos and sweeping arrangements! In other words "Build And Destroy" is just like it's predecessor in that it's all things hard rock. melodic metal, progressive metal, and heavy metal as envisioned by a exceptionally talented band! One has to think that sooner or later the world is going to catch on to just how good this band is. With albums like this how could they not?   

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