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Bloodbound: Rise Of The Dragon Empire

My first encounter with Bloodbound came a couple of years ago when frontman Patrick Johansson donned his minuscule devil horns (he really does) as he and his band opened a triple bill also consisting of Alestorm and Sabaton. It was the perfect setting for the Bloodbound sound and they went down a storm. I can’t pretend that I wasn’t also carried away by their romp-along power metal chants and chest beating as double kick drums pounded out the clarion call and the hordes of Glasgow waved their flagons of ale aloft. Not that this band are pirate metal… well not quite, although fare such as “Slayer Of Kings” and “Blackwater Bay” would undoubtedly yo-ho-ho you otherwise. That in itself is something of a slight shift for the band as they hail The Rise Of The Dragon Empire on what is now their eighth studio album.

If you could imagine the two bands further up the bill I saw Bloodbound on - Sabaton and Alestorm - writhing together in an unseemly manner and producing a pirate-power offspring, I’d suggest that these days it would undoubtedly be bound in blood, for “Skyriders And Stormbringers” and especially the boom-a-bang-smash of “A Blessing In Disguise” are unmistakably groomed in the Sabaton stables. If that all sounds a bit silly, then, yes, it probably is, but Euro-power metal has tended to flirt with a fair amount of daftness in recent years and at least Bloodbound are, unlike so many these days, still built on the power of their guitar pair, Tomas and Henrik Olsson. Don’t get me wrong, keyboard player Fredrik Bergh is absolutely vital to the success of “Breaking The Beast” and its mid-paced refrain, or the slower, chanting “Reign Of Fire”, but at least it’s an equal billing with the fret-smiths.

‘Serious’ metal heads will doubtless sneer at the dayglo colours of Bloodbound and, even as someone who gets a kick out of the broad brush strokes that this style of attack employs, I can very easily hear why. However, it’s also equally easy to grasp why the likes of Sabaton can fill venues and headline festivals the world over. Bloodbound are cut from the same cloth, not quite as bombastic as the Saba-boys and not quite so drunkenly silly as those filled with Ale but there’s no denying the relationship between them all is musically close.

Rise Of The Dragon Empire is unlikely to go down as a power metal classic, but as a way to headbang through forty five minutes or so, it is damn good fun!

Track Listing
1. Rise Of The Dragon Empire
2. Slayer Of Kings
3. Skyriders And Stormbringers
4. Magical Eye
5. Blackwater Bay
6. Giants Of Heaven
7. The Warlock's Trail
8. A Blessing In Sorcery
9. Breaking The Beast
10. Balerion
11. Reign Of Fire

Added: April 20th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Rise Of The Dragon Empire @ AFM Records
Hits: 274
Language: english

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Bloodbound: Rise Of The Dragon Empire
Posted by Simon Bray, SoT Staff Writer on 2019-04-20 13:35:02
My Score:

Bloodbound are one of Europe's most consistent metal acts. year in, year out they produce top quality fantasy laced power metal without ever, in my opinion getting quite the success they deserve. Perhaps it's because of their sorcery and cape image, perhaps it's because they went through a phase of changing their singer every two seconds, whatever the reason, if you love bands such as early but definitely not late period Edguy or Rhapsody (of Fire) and their ilk you should investigate Rise of the Dragon Empire with immediate effect.

Just the titles such as "Slayer of Kings", "Skyriders and Stormbringers" give the listener a fragrant nosegay of what to expect and Bloodbound deliver in spades although the album kicks off with the quite sublime title track. I say sublime - because I utterly love the song but I think the tune also gives a clue to the potential lack of market clout for the band. Rather like Sonata Arctica who also write in a second language the chorus is perhaps too wordy. It certainly requires fists to be punched and heads to be banged but it just has too many words to learn! It's still great and the video for the song is a bit of a hoot as well.

Perhaps the biggest accolade I can give this album though is that it passes very quickly and warrants playing back to back over and over. "A Blessing in Sorcery", "Breaking the Beast" and in particular "The Warlock's Tail" are amongst the best material of the band's career and I suspect in a couple of years time we will all be back staring down at a new Bloodbound album with excitement.

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