Here is the thing about a band like Bloodbound: they are somewhat of a niche band. They are very aware of the type of music that they are making and they have no problem in going head on about it–this is certainly going to attract some listeners and make others to go away. What we cannot deny is that they are very consistent within that frame.
This Swedish band has around for almost fifteen years now and they have been offering a very consistent and solid brand of Power Metal; they are not here to reinvent the wheel or make a revolutionary album–they just want to offer solid melodies, good riffs and have you enjoy each of the songs, which is clearly shown on their latest album, 2019’s Rise of the Dragon Empire.
From the moment it opens with the title track we are welcomed with the classic Bloodbound formula: a lot of strong guitar melodies and Patrick J. Adding that high-note approach to things. It’s a very straightforward track with a good hook in its chorus–in the first thirty seconds we’re already immersed in the whole thing and they do it in a somewhat efficient manner.
Slayer of Kings (which is one of the best song titles ever) ups the pace and does so quite well; it’s a fun, little track that shows the band at its most epic and with the kind of double bass approach on drums which is so common in Power Metal. Then we have Skyriders and Stormbringers, which has a certain Rhapsody of Fire vibe to it, which is quite notorious of a band of Bloodbound’s ilk.
Magical Eye, starts slow and atmospheric, but then explodes in one of the heaviest tracks of the whole album and shows some of the strongest guitar work from the Olssons, so that is always nice. I have to say it upfront: I really like Blackwater Bay; it’s one of those songs where a slower pace works wonderfully and all the multiple voices add to the epic feel to it–bands of this nature can tend to saturate with the epic direction of their songs, but this one works very well.
What I really like about Giants of Heaven is that is a shameless and straightforward Power Metal track; it reminds me to the song Sons of Avalon in Civil War’s first album. It has that vigor and catchiness that is so intrinsic to the genre, which makes it fun as hell. Keyboards are a weakness of mine, I have to say, so it’s not surprising that the beginning of The Warlock’s Trail appealed to me; the song has a very strong influence from Avantasia–I would even dare to say that the vocal lines are similar to something that Tobias Sammet could have done.
On the other hand, A Blessing in Sorcery combines those Avantasia vibes with something Sabaton could have pulled off instrumentally (especially on the keyboard parts) on The Art of War album, making for an enjoyable piece. Breaking the Beast has a similar style to Blackwater Bay: it knows that its strength lies in slowing the pace and a bigger emphasis on the riffs and the vocals, so this makes for a very interesting and fun song. Bloodbound is simply a very straightforward band, overall; they are not ashamed of what they do and they do it with gusto.
Balerion is one of my favorite songs of the album; I am a huge fan of fast songs and I love when this band goes full speed ahead because it fits better with their musical approach (although it has to be said that the slower songs were pretty solid in this album). The chorus fits perfectly with the song’s style. And it was a wise decision to end the album with Reign of Fire: it’s a very notorious and helpful change of pace, which helps to transmit a much more specific and solemn feeling. Power Metal tends to have a very unique style in their ballads and this perfectly shown here; it’s a very fun and a good way to end what has been an overall musically homogeneous experience.
In general, Rise of the Dragon Empire is a very standard Power Metal affair; they know what they are doing and they offer it without shame, which is always admirable. If you are someone that really likes this genre, then you are going to enjoy it massively.