AXENSTAR – Where Dreams Are Forgotten
Always a long time favorite in my collection, Sweden’s Axenstar release their sixth full length "Where Dreams Are Forgotten"- their first for Inner Wound Recordings. Melodic power metal is their calling card, intertwining a lot of speedy riffs and double bass passages with meaty/ catchy melodies and choruses that resonate fervently for the masses. Obvious European tendencies factor into their sound – check out the note choices vocally for "Inside the Maze" or the semi-power ballad "The Return" to hear the uplifting melodies that bassist Magnus Winterwild favors, not necessarily helium oriented but definitely in a similar vein as say Edguy or Nocturnal Rites.
There’s a certain heaviness to the riffing of Joakim Jonsson and Jens Klovegård this time around that reminds me of the early Evergrey days – a thick sound that just pummels the aural landscape and makes the main groove factor for "Demise" hit home that much harder. You can also enjoy some of the semi-off time rhythm choices that catch your brain in an odd way – "Greed" being one of the most memorable Axenstar songs to date for that fact along with a deeper, darker Magnus vocal delivery that befits the attitude of the arrangement.
Where most power metal bands fail, Axenstar wins. "Where Dreams Are Forgotten" will succeed because it’s not front loaded with the fastest tracks – they are spread throughout the album from opener "Fear" to the next to last track "This False Imagery". And yet the band understand that to gain full appreciation, you need to vary some of your tempos and go for different feelings, be it a little more traditional and old school on the galloping "My Sacrifice" or the 6 minute epic closer "Sweet Farewell" that features sinister keyboards and a slightly doomier nature.
"Inquisition" is still the quintessential Axenstar album to my ears, but "Where Dreams Are Forgotten" could surely usurp that position as my brain takes in more playbacks. Those who love melodic power metal and haven’t taken to this quartet as of yet, here is a phenomenal starting point.