Dire Peril – Queen Of The Galaxy
Dire Peril – Queen Of The Galaxy (EP) (2014)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Dire Peril is one of the underground power metal darlings that completely failed to impress me with its debut EP. Moving right along with another four-track EP in Queen Of The Galaxy, the band is setting out to entrench itself firmly as a science fiction-focused act in the US power scene. Playing a rough-and-tumble variety of fairly typical trad/thrash hybrid USPM, Dire Peril decidedly sets the bar a little higher with Queen Of The Galaxy, as well as calls in some sci-fi starpower from Unleash The Archers vocalist Brittney Hayes on the EP’s title track – the primary and unabashed selling point of this recording.
Dire Peril does some things well. Solid riffing forms a foundation that can’t be knocked, but none of the band’s leads strike me as impressive whatsoever. While vocal melodies are inoffensive and perhaps even good, I find Norman Skinner’s vocal approach to be rather sloppy and uninspired here – in direct opposition to his work with prior project Imagika (a band I rather enjoyed). While I’m on the fence about it for most of the album, the fourth tune, “Something About You” (a Boston cover) drives the nail in the coffin that contains my feelings about this album for two reasons. First, because the way that Skinner sings the dipping chorus melody comes across as all kinds of messy (and even a little flat), and second, because I am beginning to think of this band in general as having contracting what I like to think of as Van Canto-itis.
Two four song EPs over the five years that the band has existed, and one quarter of its recorded output is covers. Both of them covers that feel well outside the band’s comfort zone. Some might feel that’s a good thing – but I don’t even think the band has its core sound nailed down. Cool concept? Check. Tasty artwork? Roger. Solid (if not thrilling) guitars? You bet. A complete and memorable package? Not just yet. Perhaps it’s just a new approach for Skinner, but I really don’t feel him jiving with the band, and I feel he’s badly out-sung by Hayes on “Queen Of The Galaxy”. Logically, it follows that this song is the cornerstone of the whole album, and frankly, it feels like a much better-crafted tune all around, making everything else (especially the cover) feel very secondary.
So the title track is worth a few spins, and the EP in general worthy of a perusal from USPM fans, but there’s not enough chemistry going on yet to hook me, nor will this interest most folks outside the riff-centric traditional US heavy/power scene. Just don’t come expecting anything akin to the polished, “high science fiction” power metal that bands like Iron Savior and Keldian are known for.
2.75 // 5