Former Sabaton/Winterlong guitarist Thobba Englund returns for his second solo release, this one titled The Draining of Vergelmer, out now on Metalville Records. Though there are a few guest vocal appearances on the album, this is basically Englund tackling all instruments and some vocals, resulting in a complete DIY sound. No one can doubt the six string skills of Thobbe, who can shred with the best of them in true neo-classical/Yngwie Malmsteen fashion, and there's plenty of sizzling solos on display here. "Illuminati", "Odins Hall", "The Land Where You Belong", and the raging "Aim and Fire" all showcase Englund's fluid & speedy runs, the guitarist hitting all the sweet spots as if it was 1986 all over again when shredders were all the rage.
Despite all that, there are a multitude of problems with The Draining of Vegelmer. First, the production is very inconsistent throughout the album. On some songs the guitars sound powerful and crunchy, on others they seem to take a backseat to the click-clacky electronic drums. The vocals are also somewhat all over the place, and despite the appearances of Joakim Brodén (Sabaton), Patrik J. Selleby (Bloodbound) and Hulkoff (Raubtier) on a few of them, none of them, Englund included, put in particularly impressive performances. Lastly, there's nothing here that we haven't already heard before, and better. Unfortunately for Englund, he's taken some of the mediocre elements of Yngwie Malmsteen and Primal Fear and made an album, when we can easily just go and seek out the worst releases from either of those acts and get the same results. When the most successful song on your new album is a cover of Malmsteen's "I Am a Viking", and your next best song ("Heart of Metal") sounds like a leftover from a Primal Fear album, you know you are in trouble. Still, some damn fine guitar playing here, so there is that.
- Thou Ancient, Thou Free 1:31
- Illuminati 4:11
- Heart of Metal 0:39
- Fingerspitzengefühl 3:37
- Viking 3:22
- Odins Hall 4:41
- The Land Where You Belong 4:25
- I Am a Viking 5:03
- Aim and Fire 2:55
- The Ghost & The Darkness 3:33