Dakesis – Trial By Fire
Trial By Fire
Dakesis is a name that I became familiar with last summer after hearing a copy of their demo Valhalla. Between this, Dark Forest, Neonfly, and a couple of others that I’m doubtlessly forgetting, Britain has really ramped up its production of power metal this year. Trial By Fire takes the four songs of the Valhalla demo and adds an additional seven songs for a relatively speedy and keyboard-augmented journey into fairly familiar power metal territory.
Self produced and sounding none the worse for it, Dakesis has turned out a fairly original, if rough-edged, debut of well-composed tunes that manage to sound relatively fresh throughout the duration of the album. The guitar work on Trial By Fire is well up to par, with a good mixture of strong riffs, driving leads, neo-classically tinged solos, and precise rhythm lines. Also outstanding in this work is the keyboard contribution, which regularly adds a necessary shine to make adequate music into some very catchy power metal.
While the opener (two minute instrumental notwithstanding) “Trial By Fire” shakes the listener immediately with energy, the undeniable favorite here is “On Wings Of Steel”, during which the listener is treated to some of the best vocal performances, blistering guitar leads, and a chorus that will stand the test of time. “Broken”, while doing little for me lyrically, is quite a lovely little power ballad that showcases the vocal flexibility of female lead Gemma Lawler. “To The End” is another favorite of mine, and another new track for the album, featuring the keyboard more prominently, as well as an excellent solo section (the bass is audible and decidedly awesome just after the solo and before the next iteration of the chorus).
Dakesis certainly deserves a paragraph dedicated specifically to vocals. More so than most power metal bands, this group excels at utilizing both male and female lead vocals, with both singers regularly appearing alone and as a team. As someone who is quite picky about my female vocalists (especially in power metal), I’m pleased to say that Lawler has a very full and attractive voice that is tuneful, while also achieving both power and a soft gracefulness. Guitarist and male lead vocalist Wayne Dorman is a bit of different story, however. While his voice bears considerable energy, he is often yelling as much as he singing, and his diction leaves me wanting. Some may find his style to have a certain rough charm, but being the picky sort that I am, it tends to sometimes blunder somewhat clumsily through an otherwise enjoyable experience.
Aside from this and the occasionally noticeable gaps in the mix (understandable, for a self-released album), Trial By Fire is a varied and enjoyable work. Some might object to its less professional-sounding nature (relative to the big names), but I’ve found it to be a grower that just doesn’t repeat itself enough to make any serious mistakes. Maybe that voice will even grow on me.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5