Launched by world renowned producer and guitar wizard Fredrik Nordström in 1999 together with bassist Peter Stålfors and vocalist Niklas Isfeldt, DREAM EVIL made their debut in 2002 with the over-the-top epic, “Dragonslayer.” Rather than waiting for the dust to settle like so many of their less-motivated peers, the band returned already a year later with “Evilized,” and then in 2004 with “The Book Of Heavy Metal,” the album that officially brought the hammer down and put DREAM EVIL on the heavy metal map.
European festival appearances and successful tours supporting Hammerfall, Saxon or also Stratovarius along the way only made the band’s impact that much stronger. Ironically, between the release of “The Book Of Heavy Metal” and “United” in 2006, original members Gus G. (guitars) and Snowy Shaw (drums) decided to leave the band for their groups as well as solo-careers. But rather than pack it in after losing two key members, DREAM EVIL forged onward with Mark U Black and Patrik Jerksten in their respective places.
DREAM EVIL has always been a labor of love for the experienced quintet, and “SIX” continues their tradition in the pursuit of creating pure heavy metal. The seven-year gap since “In The Night” came down to everyone in the band having busy lives outside of making music. But the plan had always been to do another album; it was just a question of finding time to write and record new music worthy of the DREAM EVIL name. And once all the pieces were in place, there was no auto-tune, no 400-piece symphonic orchestra and no bullshit required to bring the band’s new treasure trove of metal dreams alive.
“We’ve been saying we were going to do it the whole time we’ve been away,” Nordström laughs with regards to finally making a new album. “We finally said ‘Okay, let’s do this…’ and set ourselves a firm deadline.”
Sixteen well-crafted songs built to last were written and recorded throughout the process, twelve of which made the final main cut on “SIX,” with the rest becoming strong bonus material. From the stomping crush of opening tracks and first singles “Dream Evil” and “Antidote”, through the feel-good pieces “Sin City” and “Six Hundred And 66”, the pounding “Creature Of The Night”, the shred-heavy “How To Start A War” and “Too Loud”, up to the traditional closing anthem “We Are Forever”, “SIX” is exactly what DREAM EVIL fans want. The furthest thing from rocket science as balls-out metal should be, “SIX” is dedicated to the pursuit of headbanging, air guitar mastery and singing along at the top of your lungs.
The album’s lyrical themes cover everything from partying with all its sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll glory, but also peace, love and understanding, extraterrestrial battles, motorcycle-riding and the real old devil himself. The album’s musical material is fresh, no leftovers from “In The Night” or the years in between, and the fans will agree it is distinctly DREAM EVIL. In fact, it was the fans that eventually chose the songs that you hear on the album.
“We had a heavy metal jury, which are fans we invited, to pick the 12 songs that we’re going to have on the album,” Nordström explains. “And we have a rule; if you’re going to be part of the jury, you can’t be able to play a musical instrument. You just have to be a heavy metal fan. We’ve done this since “The Book Of Heavy Metal, ” and I think it’s a good idea because the fans are buying the album, so why shouldn’t they pick the songs? This time, however, I couldn’t pinpoint the songs they were going to choose. There were some songs they wanted that surprised me, so we had to go back and listen with different ears.”
Ultimately, it was left to Nordström as the producer to bring “SIX” to life in his own Fredman Studio facilities due to distance and time constraints, but it was still a band effort, with every member involved and having a say in shaping the album. Thus, it’s no surprise to hear still strains of the individual player’s influences, which range from Judas Priest, Accept, AC/DC, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Manowar, Black Sabbath, Dio, Van Halen or Thin Lizzy to Pantera and even Morbid Angel, but of course also Sweden’s own ABBA. This truly honest mix of essential elements inspired by the members’ all-time faves, pairing with a not overly serious approach as well as pure and raw delivery once more shapes DREAM EVIL’s classic trademark sound in an infectiously catchy way, as it credibly and efficiently did since the very start of their career.
DREAM EVIL is a band of skilled and formidable musicians, but “SIX” is lightning-charged proof they are, first and foremost, metal fans.
Dream Evil kicks ass from start to finish. 8/10 stars – Andrew Catania