''European power metal revival from Saguenay's underground legends'': A review of Drakarium's ''DrakariuM''
DrakariuM is a power metal band from Jonquière, Québec that was formed back in 2004 by several students who originally planned to play a mixture of hardcore and black metal but quickly switched to the European power metal genre inspired by bands such as HammerFall, Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius. The band played only a couple of concerts and I remember a particularly nice one where the band played with local acts One Crimson Night and Kastlegar in the middle of winter back in early 2007. Back in the days, I was surprised that the band's compositions were mainly instrumental and that the most outstanding instruments were the keyboards and the drums. The band played mainly cover songs back then but also a few own tunes that sounded rather promising to me. A couple of years later, the band went on hiatus and there were no news for over six years. It came as a big surprise to me when the band came back to life a few months ago and even announced that they had secretely been recording some old and some new material over the past months. The result is the band's first official release in form of a self-titled EP with a running time of twenty-five minutes. The unique sound that I discovered more than eight years ago is still there in the five compositions inspired by the Japanese five elements philosophy and the two short yet dreamy and appeasing keyboard instrumentals.
In general, the band has a weakness for catchy melodies carried by melodic guitar leads, fast and dominating keyboard sounds and a very solid rhythm section with a particularly variable drum play. Despite the short length of this output and a very focused song writing, the band has also a sense for epic song structures and a few minimal progressive influences in the technically skilled guitar and keyboard solos. I you like a soft, melodic and epic take on European Power Metal that conquered the world around two decades ago, this charming little gem is made for you. The group reminds me a little bit of the Finnish flower metal band Epiclore, the melodic German power metal band Saidian and the Spanish heavy metal legends Tierra Santa. A particular bonus point for this group is the fact that their fantasy-inspired texts about emotions, freedom and nature are performed in French even if some of the lyrics are somewhat hard to understand due to the singer's unusual pronounciation. The catchy and melodic French vocals even recall pop singers like Jean-Jacques Goldman and Florent Pagny which isn't a bad thing in my book. Metal purists might claim that this approach is too commercial, fluffy and predictable but I think it gives the band an outstanding sound that distinguishes DrakariuM from similar acts.
In the end, this debut EP might not be the most original genre release and comes at least a decade too late to have a significant impact on the North American power metal scene but it's better to release a debut record late than never and I'm pleasently surprised to be able to rediscover a band and a genre that introduced me to metal music almost a decade ago. DrakariuM's nostalgic European power metal revival output convinces with powerful drum sections, beautiful guitar melodies, enchanting keyboard passages, harmonious French lyrics and really catchy vocal lines. Support this forgotten underground band and party like one or two decades ago again.
Final rating: 8/10
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