[10 February 2010]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Along with Germany’s Edguy, Sweden’s HammerFall, and Greece’s Firewind, Dream Evil has emerged as one of the better acts in power metal in recent years. While the much-maligned, defiantly uncool genre is full of bands who stubbornly adhere to its traditional formula, Dream Evil, like its aforementioned peers, manages to put a refreshing, modern twist on the sound. Make no mistake, though, the fromage is always front and center. Famed producer and founding member Fredrik Nördstrom has enormous fun bringing out the metal anthem clichés and Helloween/Gamma Ray homages, but with his slick trademark sound and the band’s strong emphasis on muscular, crunching riffs, it’s a package that can appeal to mainstream metal fans who wouldn’t otherwise dabble in such a garish form of music.
With In the Night, Dream Evil comes through with its most consistent album to date, a big leap from 2006’s fun but harmless United. Led by singer Niklas “Nick Night” Isfeldt’s wonderfully pompous tenor, fist-pumpers like “On the Wind” and “Immortal” immediately command our attention and refuse to get out of our heads, but it’s on the more aggressive tracks like “Frostbite”, “Kill, Burn, Be Evil”, and “In the Fires of the Sun” where the quintet truly inspires and at times resembles Arch Enemy, that is if Arch Enemy was fronted by Ralf Scheepers instead of Angela Gossow. The saccharine “The Ballad” would be total overkill if it were not for its uproarious sense of humor (“Even if we’re stained with blood / You know, we got that sex appeal”). As such, the band’s willingness to laugh at itself provides the album with the kind of levity this form of music sometimes needs.