Dynazty – Renatus
Reviewed by Jeff Teets
As a fan of melodic power metal, I’ve been relatively depressed in recent years. Some of my favorite bands playing the style (see: Nocturnal Rites) have been silent, and others (see: Firewind) have strayed and let me down, with many of the genre’s front-runners choosing to either alter their sound (for better or worse), or just beating the same dead horse with more tired and generic attempts to recapture former glories. A few bands have managed to offer up the occasional song or overall glimmer of hope, but in general, I’ve found myself favoring the progressive or straight up hard rock approaches in recent years, with a diminishing faith in the, well, power – of power metal to capture my ears and attention.
From out of nowhere, enter Dynazty: a relatively young Swedish outfit with three previous albums under its belt. Previously relegated more to the realm of retro-inspired Swedish glam/hard rock revival (see: Crash Diet, Crazy Lixx, etc.), the band’s fourth offering, Renatus, answers my call for outstanding power metal with soaring choruses, great guitar work, and balls to boot. Completely revamping its sound, the quintet brings forth an assault situated comfortably between the melodic choruses and guitar leads of bands like Nocturnal Rites, riff-work reminiscent of recent Symphony X albums, and a pop sensibility and keyboard texture in a similar vein to newcomers Amaranthe, though without any of the gimmicks.
Trying to do a track-by-track review of Renatus would be relatively pointless, as just about every track could be considered a highlight, depending on your mood and sequencing of listening. Like many similar albums, the tracks near the end tend to stick out the most to me – the opening trilogy, along with “Incarnation”, is my go-to picks, but every song features something a bit different. “The Northern End” brings a different groove to the table, and “Salvation” offers a small taste of a more epic approach, as well as a structure that’s slightly different than the majority of the rest of the tracks. The songs tend to follow a very similar verse/pre/chorus structure with ample time for lead breaks (and some damn fine soloing by both guitarists), and a repeat chorus with vocal improv to highlight vocalist Nils Molin’s impressive pipes. This guy’s range, power, and sense of melody pretty much immediately qualify him as one of the scene’s best newer voices.
If there is one member of the group deserving of special mention, it would have to be drummer George Egg. While first listens don’t necessarily yield special attention for the drum work, inspection of the band’s “Starlight” video, along with studio documentary footage, brings attention to George being one of the few power metal drummers I’ve ever seen play this style with a single bass drum pedal. He does this by using his left hand to play a mounted bass drum and mimicking double-bass patterns that way. Just about anyone who’s ever played drums is probably picking their jaw up off the floor after trying to imagine some of this music being played in that fashion. While generally I tend to shun people doing something differently just for the sake of it, this technique warrants such special attention in my eyes that it has completely altered my perspective on listening to this album.
This feat, along with the amazing performance of the rest of the group, would all be for nothing if not for the truly stellar batch of songs that Dynazty serves up on Renatus. While these tracks are likely to inspire foot-tapping and unconscious humming, they also will likely cement themselves inside your brain and reappear on a regular basis. I can’t help but be floored with what these guys have delivered here, and I can’t help but wonder if their decision to revamp their sound and come in out of left-field is one of the reasons why this album comes across as such a breath of fresh air. This is almost flawlessly crafted for my own musical tastes. The bombastic hooks and vocal prowess associated with melodic rock music are here, the shredding and the riffs are here, the powerfully metallic rhythm section is here, and the songs just harken back to the style of some of the genre’s greats that made me fall in love with this music years ago, presented in a beautiful and sleek new package.
4.5 // 5