Italy’s Derdian are one of the few remaining bands of the ’00s European melodic power metal hype which spawned hundreds of bands aiming for an extremely melodic, symphonic and heroic sound in the vein of what Rhapsody started in the late 1990s. While some bands gave the formula a shot of their own ideas and influences, Derdian have been and still are honing the original idea of dramatic, melodic power metal refined by fellow Italians Rhapsody especially during their first three albums. There aren’t many of the initial masters of this style around anymore, with Rhapsody spread across two bands now, both deviating greatly from the band’s original sound, and even Kaledon, another Italian evangelist of heroic power metal, abandoning their trademark sounds for grittier experiments on their latest record.
What about Derdian? Well, musically, DNA could as well have been released in 2005 in their debut album’s stead. Derdian have always been true to their style, and even after 20 years of the band’s existence this hasn’t changed. While highly influenced by Rhapsody, Derdian‘s sound has been uniquely their own since the beginning. Traditional power metal at heart, the melodies add their own flavor of folk feeling far from the classic melodic metal chord progressions, always good for a surprise. This, plus Derdian‘s typical baroque piano melodies, sometimes prevalent, sometimes accessory, makes it easy to discern the Italians and other scene’s bands.
Yes, I said musically. Lyrically, Derdian changed up the traditional heroes and dragons themes from their first three albums (own fantasy story included) in favor of more modern themes such as human identity, technical advantages and… politics. “False Flag Operation”, concerning Trump-country, is a bit too on the nose for my tastes, which probably is to be expected. It’s hard to get those kind of topics right, and it’s even harder for power metal bands and their symphonic sound which just doesn’t suit the lyrics.
Fortunately Derdian don’t hit us with that pseudo-seriousness all album long and instead spend most of the time with what European power metal does best: happy melodies and high speed. Paragon of this, and maybe DNA‘s best track is “Red And White”. Contagiously catchy, happy and featuring the classic baroque instrumentation as padding, this song, and many others, remind a lot of the straight forward high-energy power metal of Japanese genre companions such as Galneryus.
When Derdian don’t go all out on speed and power as in “Red And White”, “DNA”, or “Nothing Will Remain”, they focus on absorbing melodies worth the slower tempo, like in the almost “The Village Of Dwarves” cover song “Hail To The Masters”. Honestly, the folky chorus and the bagpipe-sounding melodies sound very much like Rhapsody‘s tries at this atmosphere. Much more unique is “Elohim” with its crazy Jazz intervals. Big approval to Derdian for this most interesting track on DNA which remains catchy as hell while adding a whole lot of non-power metal air.
As always, Derdian convince me with their latest album through their distinctive style which differs greatly from other bands of the genre while being power metal at heart. With all the experiments and exceptional influences this could well be considered progressive power metal, but I still doubt anyone other than melodic metal connoisseurs will enjoy this album a lot. And I don’t want this to sound negatively, quite the contrary: Derdian perfectly cater to their audience with just another amazing melodic power metal record. It’s like Twilight Force‘s breakout triumph with 2016’s Heroes Of Mighty Magic; either you love it or you don’t. There’s no in between, and anyone who loves melodic metal will surely love Derdian‘s latest.