Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: September 28th, 2018
Genre: Melodic Metal
Nils Molin – Vocals
Mike Lavér – Guitars
Rob Love Magnusson – Guitars, Keyboards
Jonathan Olsson – Bass
George Egg – Drums
1. Breathe With Me
2. The Grey
3. In the Arms of a Devil
4. My Darkest Hour
7. Closing Doors
8. Follow Me
9. Let Me Dream Forever
11. The Light Inside the Tunnel
Sometimes a band will make an album that’s so game-changing, it can earn the band a ton of new fans who would have otherwise not been interested in their music. For me, one such album is Renatus, the fourth full-length album from Swedish melodic metal band Dynazty. The band had started out as a melodic hard rock band, which isn’t a genre I follow too much, but when Renatus came around I heard people talking about it being a change to a much more modernized power metal sound, mixed with some prog, which of course is right up my alley. I gave it a few listens, and the rest is history. The band immediately became one of my favorites, so much so that I went back to hear some of their previous releases and was surprisingly impressed by them, as well, with vocalist Nils Molin, in particular, proving to be equally amazing singing both power metal and hard rock. When their fifth release, Titanic Mass, came around, I was excited to see how the band would progress, and while that release wasn’t the revelation its predecessor was, it was instead a very fun album that kept the momentum going, simplifying their sound just a bit, while still keeping everything that had worked previously. More importantly, it proved the previous release wasn’t a fluke, and so it left me excited to hear any future releases from the band. The band is now set to release their sixth album, Firesign, later this month, and while at this point it feels like they’ve settled into following an established formula, they’re doing such a good job of it, I can’t help but enjoy every second of the new album, just like with the two previous releases.
The biggest difference between Renatus and Titanic Mass, was that the former felt a bit more complex, with one particular track being much longer and more advanced than anything else they’ve done in their career, while the latter felt more simplified, relying on super catchy choruses and pretty much following the same formula for every track, just with varied sounds and tempos. Firesign is somewhere in the middle, in that the songs are still very straight-forward and extremely catchy, but there are a couple of longer ones, and there are times where the band gets more epic than they’ve ever been before, with an increased use of symphonic elements. At the same time, this is very much a formulaic album in the same way its predecessor was, with the verses being simple and fun and the choruses having huge vocal melodies, with the last run through always being especially epic, giving Nils a chance to steal the show right at the end. Every song on the album does this to great effect, just like on the last album, and while on the one hand, I can see it getting a bit repetitive, the band does it so well, I really can’t help but enjoy it every time. One slight difference I’ve noticed going from album to album is that the previous two were a bit heavier than this one, with the guitars having a more dominant presence, especially on Renatus. There’s still some good riffs and nice melodic solos here, but none of the tracks are quite as rocking as the likes of “Starlight”, or “Divine Comedy”. Instead, there’s an increased use of keyboards, with the light trance elements of Renatus feeling much more prominent on this album, especially on the title track, which almost feels like it could have come from Amaranthe, who of course now have Nils Molin in their ranks. One last change I notice is while Titanic Mass, in particular, leaned heavily towards faster-paced tracks, Firesign goes completely the other way, with the majority of the tracks being more mid-paced. This combined with the reduced guitar work makes for a very relaxing, very melodic kind of metal album, where the melodies truly shine, and so anyone looking for a hard-hitting kind of power metal may be disappointed. Personally, I took some time to adjust to this album, but once I did, I found myself loving it about as much as its predecessor, and almost as much as Renatus. Obviously, the performances are amazing across the board, and the production is quite good, as expected.
The best thing about Dynazty through the years has always been vocalist Nils Molin. Whether he’s singing an aggressive, modern power metal track or a softer melodic hard rock track, his voice is absolutely amazing, striking a perfect balance between being intense and powerful, and soft and melodic. He sings very smoothly when needed, and can deliver a chorus as well as anyone, but at the same time, when the intensity picks up, he absolutely kills it with some extremely powerful vocals, and he puts an incredible amount of emotion into his performances, especially in the later parts of tracks, where he gets to go all out. All of this is as true as ever on Firesign, and he once again delivers an incredible performance, that helps make some already great songs even better. He may very well be my favorite singer in all of metal, right now. He’s certainly high up there.
Another area where the band tends to excel is in the songwriting. I was initially a bit disappointed by Firesign, as the band seemed to be losing a bit of their intensity, but over time the album has grown on me a lot, as I’ve realized it still hits hard in place, but it’s definitely more focused on being an extremely, fun catchy and melodic metal album. It’s almost relaxing, in a weird sort of way. The album gets off to a strong start, with lead single “Breathe With Me”, an energetic, up-tempo track which does a great job of indicating what to expect from the album on the whole. It has the speed of the previous album, as well as some good riffs, though it instantly shows a greater focus on keyboards and symphonic elements, which are especially prominent during the chorus, while Nils shines as always, getting particularly intense during the final run of the chorus. It’s not quite as intense as some of the faster songs on the two previous songs, but it’s definitely just as catchy and even more epic, so it makes for a great start to the album.
Next is one of the tracks that took some time to warm up to me, that being “The Grey”, the second single from the album. It’s a slower paced track, and is very heavily reliant on keyboards, especially during the verses. It’s a very melodic track, with some rather unique vocal lines during the verses, before opening up for the unsurprisingly epic chorus. There’s some nice guitar work hidden in there, especially during the guitar solo in the second half, but it’s definitely a softer track overall, and a great indicator of what the overall album sounds like. The pace picks up again with “In the Arms of a Devil”, one of my personal favorites. It’s a hard-hitting, super fast track, which still shows off some flashy keyboards in spots, while overall being one of the heavier and more explosive tracks on the album, with fun verses and a very powerful chorus, especially the last time through, where Nils delivers some of his best vocals I’ve ever heard. It’s a super addictive track overall, and one of my personal favorites from the band.
Once again, the pace drops off immediately afterward, and this time it doesn’t really pick up again for a while. Next is “My Darkest Hour”, a very slow paced and heavily keyboard driven track, with some nice beats to it. I initially wasn’t too thrilled with it, but the vocal melodies eventually won me over, and Nils is amazing as always, while the guitar solo is also very nice. The first longer track is next in the form of “Ascension”, a track I already liked on first listen, though it has grown on me quite a bit over time, as well. It’s faster than the previous track, moving at a nice gallop, without fully speeding up, and it is perhaps the most epic track on the album, with the symphonic elements being especially noticeable throughout, and it has one of the strongest choruses on the album, which of course only gets even better at the end. It’s a fairly straightforward track but has some complex symphonic arrangements, as well as an excellent solo in the middle. It manages to be one of the heavier tracks here, while still showcasing the more melodic and epic and slightly calmer sound the band has gone for on this album. Next is a track which took several listens to impress me, which is the title track. It opens up with some very bouncy keyboards, and it’s definitely a more playful, very accessible track where the keyboards are extremely dominant. It’s by far the most trance infused track here, and has a chorus and vocal melodies that would not feel out of place on an Amaranthe album at all. I initially thought it seemed out of place here, but over time the stupidly catchy chorus and fun keyboard leads have grown on me, and I now find it to be extremely fun and addictive.
There aren’t a ton of surprises in the back half of the album, though everything is excellent. One of my favorites is next in “Closing Doors”, a speedier track, which still stays fairly calm and melodic through, aside from an intense and powerful chorus, which stands out as the highlight of the song, along with the excellent guitar solo. The next three songs are all more mid-paced, with “Follow Me” being particularly heavy and having some great leads, as well as a fun and upbeat chorus, “Let Me Dream Forever” is one of the most melodic tracks on the album, with an extremely strong chorus, and “Starfall” is one of the more modern sounding tracks, having some very chunky guitar work in quick bursts, while having a nice melodic chorus and overall striking a nice balance between the band’s two extremes of super heavy and super melodic. I initially wasn’t impressed by the last of these, especially the very chunky instrumental section later on, but it has grown on me a lot over time. Closing out the album is “The Light Inside the Tunnel”, one track which certainly did not need to grow on me much. It opens up with some beautiful keyboards and symphonic elements, before settling into a nice groove. It strikes a nice balance between some heavy guitar work and very melodic keyboards while moving at a pretty nice pace, without fully speeding up. It has one of the most addictive choruses on the album and is certainly one of the most epic, as well as the longest by a couple of seconds. It was one of my favorites right away, and it’s certainly an excellent way to close out the album.
Overall, Firesign is another excellent album from Dynazty, which once again continues with the sound they began back in 2014 with their breakthrough release, Renatus. The pace is a bit slower than I expected, and many of the tracks don’t hit quite as hard as I expected, but it’s yet another very fun and catchy album, full of huge vocal melodies, excellent keyboards and one of the best vocal performances of the year, as expected from Nils Molin. Fans of the previous two releases are sure to enjoy this as well, while any fan of modern melodic metal or power metal is highly recommended to give this and its two predecessors a listen, as Dynazty has become one of the best in the game over the past half decade.
Written by: Travis Green