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Album cover
Artist: Asgard
Title: Drachenblut
Label: Dragon's Music DRMUS 002
Length(s): 68 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2000
Month of review: 07/2000

Line up

Chris Bianchi d'Espinosa - bass, guitars, vocals
Peter Bachmayer - drums, percussions
Sergio Ghiotto - guitars
Alberto Ambrosi - keyboards, flute, vocals
Ivo Gallo - lead and backing vocals

Tracks

1) Blue Fire 5.38
2) Red Fire 5.07
3) Ch. I - Sigurd 1.05
4) Ch. II - Dragon's Blood 3.16 MP3 or RealAudio
5) Ch. III - Quid 10.59
6) Ch. IV - Drachenfels 4.08
7) Ch. V - In The Lands Of The Dragon Of Midgard 5.38
8) Ch. VI - Initiation 10.16
9) Ch. VII - "I Am The Udder" 3.18
10) Ch. VIII - The Bathe 2.31
11) Memories From Sigurd's Past 2.37
12) Danger! (Sigurd In Love) 4.21
13) A Lime-leaf Was On His Back 8.57

Summary

Nobody would have guessed that after the four albums in three years that Asgard made we would have to wait seven years for the next one. It was supposed to have been a double, but it has become a single one nonetheless. Concerning the time it took to record this album, a big problem was finding a new singer and their moving around a lot.

The music

The album opens with Blue Fire that takes its time opening up into a crescendo of guitars and then the vocals start. The instrumental intro is very good with a great recognizable theme running through it. The chorus is also based on this theme, but unfortunately the singing sounds quite bad. Not only do the lyrics not fit very well with the music (for instance putting 'purpose' such that purPOSE is pronounced), but I'm not that fond of the voice of the singer either, his voice is both quite accented and not very clear and tuneful as well. Too bad, because the songs themselves, though not typical for Asgard, sound good to me. Red Fire is the harder side of Asgard after the poppy opener. Quite a claustrophobic, driven sounding opening to this track. The chorus is quite poppy again notwithstanding the noisy guitars and the pace going only strengthens this impression. It is funny though that both these two songs sound very new, very not-Asgard to me. The songs themselves, that have some kind of alternative rock influence, I do like, but the vocal presentation leaves to be desired. I also think that since their previous albums Asgard has learned to let go in some way. Maybe it is faulty memory at work, but Ambrosi for instance is doing some really experimental sounding stuff here. I like it. After the vocal only track Sigurd, we come to the merry sounding acoustic Dragon's Blood (guitar first, piano added later). The melody is very okay again, but the lyrics are again clumsy and well...you know about the vocals. Folk from Asgard. Toward the end the electric guitar does come in quite forcefully. Quid is the next one and with just below eleven minutes the longest on the album. The opening is very old Genesis like with piano, acoustic guitar and acceptable singing. Then the guitar takes over a bit and then the keyboards starts the theme, that builds up o so slowly and becomes more forceful and turns the track into a fullfledged epic. In this track the vocals do not figure very much so when the singing does start it is not so disturbing. The singer is in a hurry when he DOES sing. In the guitar work and the melodies as well I hear echoes of IQ. Variation is the keyword it seems. Right in the middle a frolic passage is an antidote for the aggressive darker vocal part. Such a dark part, but slower this time, follows the bouncy passage. In the old days I could make a friend of mine quite mad, by humming in the theme of Last Flight Of The Silver Drakaar from the first Asgard album. The reason is that once it is in your head, it won't leave until sleep, consciousness or worse come over you. Well Drachenfels shows that the well of themes of Asgard is not dried up yet. Lots of variation in this track that from thematic goes straight into heavy pumping progrock. In The Lands Of The Dragon Of Midgard is not only a mouthful, but also an untypical track: dark, menacing, but subtly so. The opening sounds a bit diffly and reminds me of world music. Later on it becomes more like an experimental soundscape, but with (almost spoken) vocals. Eerie. Initiation is the other epic of the album and a wailing, IQ-ish melody pervades this track. Very memorable. The bass is also very low and loud during the intro. Then we can relax a bit and we come to a passage of Hackettish guitar work. The Genesis impression stays very much and like the previous epic there's plenty of variation. I Am The Udder is a heavy rock track with some chorals in the back for epicness. Quite a lot of vocals in this track, that has some weird passages. The Bathe is a piano track. Not much tell expect that I like it. Rock returns in Memories From Sigurd's Past. Quite a rocker in fact and a bit simple for me. The piano adds some nice touches, but the vocals are not appealling. It is quite short however. Danger! (Sigurd In Love) is the penultimate track and opens with bouncy guitar. The singing is sometimes quite bad here. For the rest is rather accessible and the main theme sounds a bit familiar (or is that from a previous spin? Hmm.) A Lime-Leaf Was On His Back opens a bouncily, disjointed, because of the signature. The chorus is quite accessible, quickly sung and some weird keyboard runs. This track is also of the ratehr epic, but I liked the previous ones more. The theme is as always very much in order, but it IS a bit on the melodramatic side. A bit disjointed this one. Some of the ingredients are quite nice, but I find the composition lacking.

Conclusion

Nothing wrong with the music. I may be wrong (seems hardly possible) but to me this is the most complete album to date. The approach is varied, with some very untypical tracks (that I do happen to like), but with a good vocalist and with more flowing lyrics it could have been much better. If you are into prog of the type: IQ, Genesis, Ageness and more such, than Asgard might be worth your attention. It may be wise to listen first to see if the vocals are okay enough for you. As regards the music it not only sounds more complete, but the great Asgard themes are still there and to this has been added maturity.
© Jurriaan Hage