DREAM EVIL, Gold Medal in Metal (2008, Century Media)
Going entirely literal, Dream Evil decided to just show the god damned gold medal in metal already. Except that one can’t escape the feeling that the musical Olympics at which this particular honor was won are a decidedly low-rent affair. For starters, the medal itself isn’t even a medal, but more like a cheap brooch, or a ring they got out of some crappy kid’s toy machine at the grocery store. This “medal” is affixed not to some fancy ribbon, or even a jewelry-grade chain, but the sort of chain you’d use to padlock a gate shut. Only gold. Or photoshopped to look gold, at least. The links are nearly as large as the medal, and you can see the fucking welds! What kind of award is this? The skull itself is squished horizontally to fit inside the flowery border, his jaws agape as if screaming, “WHAT IS THIS BULLSHIT?”
Dream Evil are the cheesiest of cheese, or at least the cheesiest cheese that I enjoy. Their wink-wink posturing makes it a tiny bit easier to endure their not-good-enough-for-Judas-Priest lyrics, but only barely. Really, they only get a pass for their many sins against good taste because they write unaccountably catchy tunes, and their singer is really, really good. That said, the only truly great album is the debut Dragonslayer, and some five albums in, their schtick has worn quite thin, especially as each turns the “Heavy Metal Cliches” dial up at least a notch. Gold Medal in Metal is a double disc set (some versions also include a DVD, I believe) compiling a live show and a bunch of studio rarities. As with all the Dream Evil releases, the sound and performances are top notch, owing, one assumes, to the engineering/producing magic of guitarist Fredrick Nordstrom, but really, there isn’t a compelling reason to own a Dream Evil live album. The rarities disc is better value proposition, but it’s not like their catalog is so thick with genius that there were truly excellent songs left off the albums. If you own Dragonslayer, and you want more Dream Evil, then this studio disc is pretty much as good as any others, offering the same guilty pleasures as their proper albums. If you don’t own Dragonslayer yet, or you don’t think “HammerFall from Alternate Universe where HammerFall is good” is likely to do much for you, then you can safely leave this medal unclaimed.
— Friar Johnsen
Correction: Dragonslayer is clearly the worst Dream Evil album. It’s the only one I couldn’t bear to own. United is my #1 vote of anthemic Dream Evil guilty pleasures.