Just when I thought I had grown bored with
the genre known as Power Metal, along comes Sydney, Australia band Dragonsclaw.
According to their biography, Dragonsclaw was conceptualized in 2007 by
guitarist, Ben Thomas and inspired by the epic compositions and raw
technicality of bands such as Symphony X, Adagio and Kamelot. Dragonsclaw
remained an idea until Thomas could find a line up of like-minded metal
virtuosos to bring his compositions to life. During this time Ben built up a local
reputation as an up and coming six-string shredder, playing guitar with Sydney thrash metal band, Paindivision. Thomas
was also featured as a guest guitar soloist on the Empires of Eden album's,
“Reborn In Fire“ and "Songs Of War And Vengeance". New Zealand born vocalist, Giles Lavery, joined
Dragonsclaw in 2010. He brings to Dragonsclaw an immense vocal range and a fine
ear for catchy choruses and vocal melodies. Giles’ influences run deep in the
ether of metal & hard rock music, from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest , Manowar
and King Diamond to A.O.R groups such as Survivor, Journey and Foreigner.
From the opening riff of the
“Painkiller-esque” “Darkness Within” and lead vocalist Giles Lavery’s
banshee-like scream, I was immediately hooked. The songs on “Prophecy” are
played with passion and virtuosity. Lead guitarist Ben Thomas is a serious
shredder who playing brings to mind 80’s bands Racer X and Cacophony.
Meanwhile, drummer Alcides "Seed" Stowe powerful playing style is
reminiscent of Scott Travis of Judas Priest. In the realm of power metal, a
vocalist can either make or break even the most talented band. Luckily,
Lavery’s powerful range and melodic sensibility is highly enjoyable. His upper
register is awe inspiring at times.
On the songs “Fight For Your Life”, “Angels
in White”, and “Defenders of the Skies” Dragonsclaw is on full Metal assault.
On “Prophecy is a Lie”, Lavery’s vocals take a more theatrical tone to great
effect. The blazing “Life Through Anubis Eyes” is an epic headbanging
masterpiece with a blinding solo section from Thomas and a greater emphasis on
keyboards by Ray Marten.
“Rising Power” continues Lavery’s piercing
vocal wails in the fine tradition of Rob Halford or Geoff Tate (when he was
actually a metal singer). Other great tracks include ‘Devil’s Fiery Dance”, the
neo-classical “”The Unknown Horizon”, and closing track, the haunting
“Revolutionary Suicide”. Dragonsclaw have renewed my faith in the future of
power metal. Highly recommended for fans of Cage, Painkiller-era Judas Priest,
and Racer X.