Draekon – Prelude To Tragedy
Prelude To Tragedy
Wow, this was a surprise. With a title like Prelude To Tragedy and the dark red and black artwork that dominates the digipak of this EP, one of the last things I was expecting to get hammered with was tremendously strong progressive power metal. A five piece hailing from Indianapolis, Draekon enshrouds itself in a grey and red wash of grim imagery. While clearly present in the band’s compositions, this somber atmosphere is also communicated effectively by the artwork, as well as nearly all of the pictures and logos that you’ll find online.
Opener “The Value Of All” was a complete shock to my system. I can safely say that a short EP like this from an independent band has never rocked me back on my heels so effectively. This superb song is a fantastic blend of everything that I love about the genre: a hooky lead, some progressive elements thrown into the catchy power metal mix, great vocal harmonization, and a chorus that could slay a dragon. And make no mistake: it’s not a fluke. The dark embrace of the album seeps through in “Darkness Falls”, and the haunting closer “Where Silence Stills The Soul” is a fine morose tune. The contribution of melancholy acoustic guitar and eerie and beautiful keyboard support (from Alec Biccum of Lorenguard, no less!) make the latter nearly a rival of the dynamite opener.
Sounding a bit like mid-era Kamelot, I think that Draekon arguably do an equally good job of creating a similar atmosphere while maintaining a superior level of accessibility. Vocalist Chad Barnes has a voice that is similar in some ways to the legendary Roy Khan, though he warms a bit better to the higher register and has an airier quality to his strains. Combine this with the vocal layering, the behavior of the lead guitar, and the dark drama of Draekon’s work, and comparison to the American power metal greats is going to be inevitable.
It can be hard to infuse a genre so normally upbeat as power metal with a proper sense of gloom, but Prelude To Tragedy is both ominous and powerful without overextending itself or abandoning strong basics. Everything you love about a good power metal album is here, along with many things that make this fledgling band stand out from the crowd: especially in the United States! After the strength of execution on Prelude To Tragedy, I can’t wait to see what these guys will pull out with their first full length. To be completely honest, this is the kind of metal that Kamelot should still be making. Draekon’s spin on symphonic and proggy power metal tells me that they could well evolve into a scene leader if they maintain this level of quality and have the ambition to continue.
Dan’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5