Holy Dragons

(Metalism records)

MARK: 68/100



Back home from a journey to Moscow, Russia, I was given my first CD from a Kazakh band which is one of the oldest of that country together with Black Fox and Phoenix and already boasts a huge discography with other 7 releases.

The main references of these warriors are Black Sabbath, Blind Guardian, Deep Purple, Gamma Ray, Iron Maiden, Manowar and Rage and most of their songs last long as they're multiform and contain several lengthy guitar solos.
Since I have no cyrillic fonts, I'll just refer to the track numbers; the number 1 kick-starts with an intro and suddenly blazes through a granitic riff; a groovy and lively song with an irresistible chorus; a nice surprise comes from the guitarists, releasing excellent solos under the sign of the purest classic-power-heavy metal tradition. I also have to notice for you the efficient epic break and the final vocals, really high.
The second song rides fast at once and includes raw vocals opposed to the proud refrain stolen (eh, eh, gotcha!) from "Aces High" of the Iron Maiden; it's nice to have such influences and honest to claim them but it's not digestible to copy them so much; however, the composition is 'saved' by another pair of fine solos preceding a ride and the refrain repeated to the end.
The 3rd song is aggressive and contains a few abrupt drum accelerations, while the guitar sounds do cut like razorblades here and afterwards the twin guitars make a very good job, while the bass fights for the cause better than ever.
The fourth song can be translated as "Not Tomorrow" and I must precise it because it should be the first song you should listen to from Holy Dragons. How ever did it become my favourite? Maybe cos it's a maidenian track, even though the vocals are different from Bruce Dickinson's; they might be closer to Rage for example, yet what counts is that both the riffs and the vocal hooks are wonderful, without forgetting the middle central part.
Almost 7 minutes of impetuous metal compound the track n. 5, displaying the main singer and the 2 back-up vocalists' capacities; this song is not so easy to be sung and borrows too much from "Hallowed Be Thy Name"; some drum work is even jazzy, therefore more personality would've made it a masterpiece.
Anyhow, the song number 6 commences with a heart-rending arpeggio, and soon becomes speed power and in a couple of passages even a là Nuclear Assault! There's also a time change homaging Iron Maiden where the 2 guitars play the same riff and another of Kazakh folk before a spray of female vocals. Absolutely the most original song of the 9.
The track n. 7 is just an arpeggio introducing to the # 8, a cheerful one in the vein of Helloween notwithstanding the vocal tune is lower; there're several instrumental structures within this composition, enriched by heaps of scorching, technical and fantastic axe solos. The most brilliant profile of Holy Dragons has finally been shown.
"Living on the Edge" is the only track sung and lyricized in English and this bonus has been chosen since it's another fine example of the Kazakhs' qualities; ex-singer Daniel Throne takes the vocal duties in this song recorded and mixed 4 years before in October 2003; Dani's quite busy in giving the best in this melancholic ballad and shows he's nothing to envy the newcomer, Holger Kovaroff. The latter was probably chosen because he has a less nasal timbre and more power in his lungs. In this closer the 5-piece embeds another classy heartfelt solo.

As for the recording of the first 8 tracks, I must say all instruments sound well, bass included and that's a smart choice, as Chris Larson owns a skill above the average. Sometimes the charleston sounds a bit artificial, while the last track hides the bass a little but includes clearer sounds. Besides this, I will recommend this record to those who wish to have an ample discography of the sector, including not only the milestones; if you're a starter, then you'd better listen to the genre leaders and founders before.


E-mail: holydragons@front.ru