If swordbearing was a term or scale to describe metal bands, Swedish power metallers Bloodbound would make first place in swordbeariness, even before the likes of Manowar. Rise Of The Dragon Empire, their 8th album already, is the third album in the band’s discography to deal with the happenings in Game Of Thrones, or A Song Of Ice And Fire for booklovers. And that’s a great source of inspiration since Stormborn, their 2014 record, was one of the strongest albums Bloodbound put out since their revival in 2011 with then new singer Patrik Johansson and the first to draw inspo from the famous book/TV series, spawning one of the band’s greatest hits, “Iron Throne”. Whereas Stormborn was a pretty brutal power metal record in the vein of earlier Sabaton records, War Of Dragons in 2017 and this year’s Rise Of The Dragon Empire decelerate a bit.
The opening title track shows Bloodbound emphasize huge, catchy melodies over intense riffs and speedy double bass, a trend the Swedes will follow through the whole record with only few exceptions. This song and the others are by no means slow, but for Bloodbound standards definitely a notable difference to speed bangers like “Iron Throne”, “King Of Swords” or dating back to 2006, “Fallen From Grace”. That way, Bloodbound sound much more traditional in their ways and less modern, more like early 2000’s melodic metal and less like Sabaton ca. 2008. With their slight change towards more epic compositions than dashing neckbreakers, the melodies and especially the choruses become much bigger. “Skyriders And Stormbringers” and “Blackwater Bay” almost have a “The Crown And The Ring” feel to them, towering hymns fit as anthems for a Westerosi people.
Of course the Swedes have not forgotten how to write uptempo tracks; “Slayer Of Kings” and “Balerion” are just the track for you if you are looking to let your hair fly. Especially “Balerion” with its no-holds-barred double bass dashing into the easy to scream chorus follows suit of previous Bloodbound masterpieces like “When All Lights Fall” and “Dragons Are Forever”. Personally, I prefer this kick-ass no mercy side of Bloodbound.
Rise Of The Dragon Empire is just another flawless Bloodbound record. The band found its genre and formula and they follow it, pleasing every fan they have. Huge, cheesy power metal choruses, searing riffs, catchy melodies and, especially, no bullshit ballads make for another perfect power metal record, a task the Swedes somehow accomplish every other year without effort as if the compositions were born in their blood. One of the few bands to never, ever disappoint!