I admit that I've not made a secret of the fact that I've great respect for all metal that makes its way out of Scandinavia! Dreamland, being Swedish, automatically have high expectations to meet, and despite one disappointing blip, they live up to that expectation. Having formed in 2003, Exit 49 is their third studio album, following in the footsteps of Future's Calling and Eye For An Eye. There are also a couple of new additions introduced on this album: Alexx is Dreamland's new drummer and Nils Olsson is their new guitarist.
Dreamland are one of the many bands currently taking us back to 80s metal: not something I'll ever be heard complaining about. Exit 49 takes that 80s metal sound, and scoops it out with a few modern twists borrowed from newer metal genres dotted here and there. I wasn't convinced on the first listen but on the second and third spin this album has me ready to jump on a plane and brave the cold to see this band play live in Sweden!
Opener, A Touch Of Evil, fades in with some evil laughter and expert guitar work that will have you rocking out before the counter hits 15 seconds. The lyrics are what you expect from Dreamland: catchy and melodic. You'll soon be singing along with Jake E. The drum work from Alexx and bass by Mat Saint both stand out on Set The Heavens on Fire.
This metal feel continues with The Warning, my personal faourite, So Weak So Feeble and The Curse. We then pick up at the album's first ballad, Worlds Apart. Unfortunately, and I hate to say it, this track is a bit Backstreet Boys. I see where they were going with this song but it's just far too cheesy, which results in more of a pop sound with a few guitars and drums in the background. And let's not get me started on the full band, choir-like vocals that close the song.
The guitar work by Eric Rauti and Nils Olsson on title track, Exit 49, is outstanding. This track features guest vocals from Rick Altizi (At Vance) and leads nicely into Nordic Rage which continues the harsh 80s metal feel. Song For You, which is the second ballad of the album and, unlike the first, has everything you want from a metal ballad: lyrics that can melt a heart, a simple guitar hook sitting behind the vocals, and a guitar break to add a bit of grit. They can certainly sing this song for me anytime!
Shortest Straw returns to the grinding guitar work that us metal heads live for and features some lovely screamo work mixed in with Jake E's melodic vocals. Closing the album with Time To Exhale, which gives you what it says on the tin, a musical interlude (I don't think that I should call it that when it's at the end of the album..?), it fades out and chills the brain back down ready for you to hit play and start the fun all over again.
Dreamland's Exit 49 is out on 25 September on Dockyard1/Riot.