Dragonhammer’s second album, Time for Expiation, was released 11 years ago and was a follow up to their debut album, The Blood of the Dragon. The album sold 5,000 copies and it showed the band were strong and powerful as ever to give a follow up a surprising jolt of electricity that is the spark that gives the juice for the band’s sound. Alongside their debut album, their second album is now reissued in the digital format as well along with the artwork also. The music itself still carries on like a flaming fire ready to ignite.
The opener, Ancient Voice starts with an atmospheric yet nightmarish sound with a growling voice and resembling Black Sabbath’s E5-150 as it segues into the elevated Eternal Sinner. With galvanized guitar and drum power from Max and Raf before Alex’s mellow line of the piano comes in filling in the midsection. With improvisation flowing very between the three of them, the song is strong and it deals with the question on how much of the sins they must go into and why they are living in the hell they are in with no hope of getting out.
Free Land deals with the issue on survival. And with the beat per measure at 140, it has an electronic feel. Not to mention the heavy riffs with a church organ, synths, and choral background along with giving Gae Amodio a chance to come in front with a thunderous bass work as Max, Alex, and Raf give him free rein to Gae on a powerful metallic touch on his creative ideas on his instrument to see what he will do next.
For Alex Valdambrini, he would create these wonderful swirling solos that are classical, orchestral, and symphonic that is shown on the closing title track in which it has this sing-along feel that would get audiences in the vibration of the composition. And it’s the drive and vision of Dragonhammer which is shown on the ballad, The Pages I Never Write that starts for the first three minutes on Piano before he turns to the synths for an adventurous wonder on where he would go to next while the pummeling rhythms come for a thumping attitude on Blind Justice.
It has an ‘80s sound and Max is taking the sounds of the guitar from an ascending solo and reaches the highest note as Alex helps him out along with Raf helps him reach to go for the melodic structures and its wonderful for them along with Gae helping each other out to make it for that note to close the finale between guitar and keyboards and Max’s soaring vocals. But on Fear of a Child, Max takes the guitar on the beats per measure going at 160 from the riffs and solos that are fast and he brings them to the table for the two instruments to give it the Iron Maiden sound with a driven force.
There are three bonus tracks on here including the moving and gentle yet emotional ballad Letters of Pain which was released in the Japanese edition and two live versions during their European tour with Freedom Call featuring; Believe and Fear of a Child which were recorded last year in Barcelona and Madrid. Time for Expiation was Dragonhammer’s last album before they went on hiatus and came back in 2013 with their third album, The X Experiment.
I have to say I really enjoy both of the reissues that showed how Dragonhammer brought everything into the table of Progressive and Power Metal by creating magic, wonder, and creating a surrounding of their essence of the two genres. So if you want to relieve the experience and the wonders of Dragonhammer, go ahead and crank up the first two albums up at maximum volume and ride the lightning.