Victorius – Dreamchaser
Reviewed by Frank Zaber
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of European power metal – it’s my favorite genre, and I’ve listened to a whole lot of it over the last 30 years. It takes a special album from a special artist to completely knock me out of my socks at first listen – Helloween’s Keeper Of The Seven Keys I & II, Blind Guardian’s Nightfall In Middle Earth, Edguy’s Theater Of Salvation, and most recently, Victorius’ Dreamchaser.
Victorius has grown up very quickly as a band over the last few years. The group’s first album, Unleash The Titans, was very basic and raw, and to be honest, not very good. The Awakening, the band’s second outing, was a marked improvement and really showed its dedication to improving its collective craft. Dreamchaser completes Victorius’ progression to the top tier of European power metal. There’s almost no filler on Dreamchaser – it’s an album full of high quality power. It’s a well-paced roller coaster of an experience, alternating light and dark and keeping the listener intrigued until the final note.
The twin guitar attack of Dirk Scharsich and Sebastian Rasch are the centerpiece of the band – their powerful sound draws from the entire history of classic top-shelf power metal guitar legends, and the way they trade solos hearkens back to the Hansen/Weikath interplay in early Helloween. Andreas Dockhorn is solid on bass, if unremarkable, and Patrick Ziege’s double bass drumming is intense, driving, and appropriate to each song without being merely an attack of sound. David Baßin’s vocals are truly incredible – he switches from happy and hopeful to dark and brooding and back again, often within the same song. He’s a young master of the vocal hook, and like the guitars, his choruses help to elevate a number of tracks in order to make them truly great.
The album starts off with “Twilight Skies”, an upbeat song looking toward the future, full of hope, and then flips to the other side of the band’s sound with the dark and damning “Day Of Reckoning”. It sounds strange to the ears at first, but the way David sneers the song title really hits home and provides the exclamation point on the song. “Dragonheart” gets the album back on the bright side with a powerful tune of conquest from the back of a dragon, and then “Fireangel” slows it down with a slow and methodical headbanger. It’s not as good as the rest of the album, but is saved from being average by David’s vocal hooks and a terrific twin guitar solo break – which does a great job of elevating the song closer to the level of the rest of the album.
“Dreamchaser” is the album’s title track, and returns the vibe to a positive, hopeful tack that is the signature sound of the band. “Battalions Of The Holy Cross” follows with a classic hard rock-influenced sound recounting the Crusades, and “Blood Alliance” features a hook-laden paean to the vampire – a very good, slower paced song with a good growling sound from David to enhance the mood of the song.
“Speedracer” is a fast paced, speed metal-flavored tribute to the motorcycle nomad, and then “When Ravens Fly” darkens the mood again while keeping the pace fast. The chorus on “When Ravens Fly” is one of the most infectious and memorable on the album, and the solos are pure speed and power – they make my fingers ache just listening to them. “Black And White” is the one weak spot – it never really seems to go anywhere, and plods along for 4 minutes until its end, with nothing really outstanding about it aside from a nice 80s hard rock-inspired guitar solo.
“Silent Symphony” rounds the album out, and it’s a perfect closer. Victorius hasn’t really done a true ballad yet, but this song would definitely come the closest to that description. It’s slow paced, very melodic, and with a huge wall of sound that doesn’t stop for the entire track. For those of you who love to sing your hearts out and bleed emotions with the stereo turned up while driving, regardless of who might see, I’ve found your new driving song.
It took a lot of work not to completely fanboy all over this release. With a couple of minor exceptions, it’s just fantastic from start to finish. Were it not for the late release date, it would likely figure in many top of 2014 lists for power metal fans – I know that Dreamchaser has quickly vaulted into my top 10 after just a week with it. Pick this up – you will not regret it, and you can thank me later.
4.5 // 5