Hailing from the very birthplace of heavy metal – Birmingham, UK – this staggeringly talented five piece power metal crew take no prisoners on their self-financed debut. This is bursting at the seams with galloping riffs, wailing vocals, luscious swathes of keyboards and harmonies to die for. Fans of Helloween, Stratovarius, Firewind and Blind Guardian will find plenty to adore here.
The intro ‘Shield Of Achilles Part I’ builds gradually into the title track which erupts out of the speakers like the most gloriously cheesey burst of melody and staccato guitar work since Kai Hansen got his first Flying V. The lead breaks are technically excellent but also beautifully written and the quality of the material truly belies the age of the players – who are remarkably young to be producing stuff as well crafted as this. The dexterity of six stringers Wayne and Matt constantly battling with the keyboard wizardry of Gemma Lawler produces a frantic but never messy sound. With Wayne and Gemma both handling vocals, backed up by powerhouse rhythm section Amie and Adam this is a collection of songs so joyous and life-affirming it’s ridiculous. Gemma‘s voice really shines on the anthemic ‘After The Storm’ and the unashamedly bittersweet power ballad ‘Broken’. ‘Valhalla’ is a huge dollop of pomp, circumstance and vocal gymnastics and closer ’440 King Of The Road’ is so greasy you can smell the exhaust fumes and burning rubber as it growls out of your speakers.
The only thing keeping “Trial By Fire” from a full ten stars is the production, which occasionally sees the guitars a little too low in the mix and feels a tad thin on the odd track here and there. However, this is a very minor gripe for one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in a long while. If this band don’t break big soon there is no justice and having seen them live more than once I can promise Dakesis do not disappoint. Make sure you check them out when they bring the steel (and plenty of cheese) to a town near you.