Dakesis - Trial By Fire (2011)


There is never a shortage of up-and-coming bands to discover, a fact we know all too well. Some of them fall short of expectations, and simply fade away. Others rise to the occasion, making the most of their opportunity. The latter is where you find Dakesis, the Birmingham, UK based five piece that seems to have a knack for combining the emotional with the ridiculous. This progressive power metal outfit have all the guts, all the attitude, and all of the talent to become scene leaders. On "Trial By Fire," they put all of that to good use, and move one step closer to the spotlight.

The intro track, "Shield Of Achilles I," sets an early tone, with the use of atmospheric keys and orchestrated horns and strings creating a dark, rich background. Pounding drums enter, sending the music into a rolling thunder, leading directly into the albums title track, "Trial By Fire." There is no disguising the style or influences here, with vocalist Wayne Dorman displaying tremendous range and power. Yes, the production may seem a tad muddled, failing to give that crisp division in sound. But despite that, there is no lack of bravado, with multiple solos trading blows with one another. It becomes evident quickly that this track is the weakest to be had. "Liar" is all the proof you could need that this band is for real. With equal parts Jack Black and Bruce Dickinson, Dorman delivers his unique blend of satire and charisma. Backed by keyboardist Gemma Lawler, they create a vocal duo that is both delicate and dynamic. The guitars are fast and furious, with drums filling in every available gap. The outro section sees Dorman hitting all the high notes, soaring over the top of yet another high speed solo.

The keyboard work on "After The Storm" is exactly what you would expect from a progressive power metal band, but delivered expertly. The layering of sounds is almost overwhelming, with each instrument seeing equal time as the lead. Lawler takes center stage with her vocals, also boasting a depth that is refreshing. For those looking for a straight up power metal track, "On Wings Of Steel" has been waiting. From the opening riffs, to the operatic vocals of Dorman, you have a veritable buffet of metal delights to dissect. Keyboards dart from left to right, drums shatter each moment of silence, and guitars slice through the air. There is nothing to hold you back from throwing your fist in the air, and swinging your hair (how much, or little, you have). The necessary ballad plays out in the form of "Broken," a piano and bass driven track that sees Lawler crooning with heart and soul bared. The guitar work isn't lazy, as is the case in so many half baked metal ballads. rather, it plays into the aesthetic of the song, creating and amplifying the mood.

And to say that "Into The Light" takes hold as the heaviest track on the album, is an understatement. Complete with some deep, guttural growls in the latter stages, it takes the sound to new places. A key to making this song such a standout is the bass work. Keeping up with a flurry of guitars and drums, bassist Amie Chatterley refuses to go unheard, rolling through bass line after bass with grace and skill. The dense chugging sections are welcomed, and will surely please a crowd. From the dual vocals of "Valhalla," to the harder symphonic edge on "To The End," there is simply no stopping the momentum that has been gathered by this point. The latter is a showcase of technique and skill, featuring dueling solos on guitar and keys, ones that may leave your head spinning. With a mainly instrument take in the form of "Shield Of Achilles II," the band cruise into the home stretch. This isn't a means to an end, however, as the tongue in cheek "440 King Of The Road" is your parting shot. When you have forceful grasp on your audience, even the lighter side, lyrically, can be enjoyable as well. And, let's be honest. With some ripping good guitar work, a splash of keys and some over the top vocals, you could write a song about puppies and kitties, and still keep the heads bobbing.

Through the eleven tracks, there simply is no weakness to be found in the band itself. Dakesis have crafted a blend of power and speed that will never go out of style. The only downside remains in the production side of things. Normally, it is asking a lot to ignore production values, and focus on content. But when the content is as strong and well conceived as "Trial By Fire," it becomes easy. With a master craftsmen working the knobs and levers of the mixing board, this album goes from great to an instant classic.

9/10

Official Site - http://www.dakesis.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/dakesis