Savage Circus - Dreamland Manor

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:18:00

There are few acts in the power metal scene that command the undivided attention and respect of not only those within the movement, but also of most followers of metal in general. Basically speaking, the constantly-increasing number of Helloween/Gamma Ray clones with rollicking choruses and harmonized guitars has long been the subject of jeer in other circles, and whether the laughing is justified or not is another matter entirely. But getting back to those few acts, there is one that that appears in people's minds almost immediately: Blind Guardian. No band out there has managed to even come close to capturing the power, majesty, and complexity that these power metal masters developed through the years without, for lack of a better expression, sounding cheesy. Yeah, sure, there are a couple with brave attempts that were almost there, but none that have quite made it. Now, Savage Circus is the latest band to try and reach that German band's lofty grounds, but the members have a trick up their sleeves. Really? Really. They have none other than Thomen Stauch, Blind Guardian's former drummer. Hell, if anyone has the right to sound like Blind Guardian, it's him, right?

And sound like Blind Guardian he does with his new ensemble. The songs on Dreamland Manor have the thrashy fierceness, grandiose arrangements, and progressive bend of his former band all throughout, and singer Jens Carlsson is even a dead ringer for the hellfire vocal delivery of Hansi Kürsch. Not only that, but the search for new ground seems to have fueled Stauch, his powerhouse drumming sounding stronger and tighter than ever before. Which would all point to an album right up there with Blind Guardian's best and thus make Savage Circus the first band to make it to that point, right? Well, no, not really.

I mean, sure, the songs do have that undeniable Blind Guardian sound to them, and "Evil Eyes" and "Between The Devil And The Seas" are juggernauts in their own right, especially the latter with its legendarily epic chorus. So yes, the proceedings open quite promisingly, but by the end of "Born Again By The Night," one is left kind of unconvinced by the lack of true songwriting depth that the album exhibits. There are flashes of sheer brilliance here and there: "Ghost Story" has an amazing harmonized riff about two thirds of the way through, and "Waltz Of The Demon" has a couple of riffs with a crushingly heavy and catchy groove, but generally speaking, it's as if though Savage Circus were just going by the numbers. It's all there on the surface, but when one digs deeper, the sheen wears off, not in small part because most of the songs have an excessive number of arrangements that seem to be there more for show than anything else.

Now, one might insist that it's unfair to compare Savage Circus to Blind Guardian, but it's really unavoidable, with Stauch and company clearly having pursued that avenue. And the fact is that no one can really blame them. Truth be said, Dreamland Manor will probably be loved by many Blind Guardian diehards due to the closeness, and they will be indebted to this German-Swedish combo for a quick dose of energetic power metal. However, the rest of us will probably be better off just waiting for the next effort by Stauch's original band.

Evil Eyes (6:58) / Between The Devil And The Seas (5:24) / Waltz Of The Demon (6:56) / Tomorrowland (6:26) / It - The Gathering (6:14) / Beyond Reality (5:23) / When Hell Awakes (7:33) / Ghost Story (7:05) / Born Again By The Night (5:21)

Jens Carlsson - vocals
Emil Norberg - guitars
Piet Sielck - guitars
Thomen Stauch - drums

Dreamland Manor (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: May 8th 2006
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 1014
Language: english


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