Dynazty – The Dark Delight (Album Review)

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The last year has been a bountiful cornucopia for melodic rock and the AOR scene at large. Just a few highlights would include Revolution Saints, Edge of Forever, Work of Art, and Restless Spirits. Or, let’s put it this way; in 1999 a great many of us would have been dubious there would be albums being released in 2020 sounding like Journey, Toto, and Foreigner. Yet here we are. However, on the heavier melodic metal side of things, we have had some gems in the form of releases like Eclipse, Sweet Oblivion, and Mind Key, yet we find ourselves still hungry for another treat. In April of 2020, in a world gone mad and desperate for anything good, we get some relief in the form of… well, not a treat, per se, but a delight. A “Dark Delight,” the newest and most ambitious album by Swedish melodic power metal-heads Dynazty.

Proving that we thankfully reaped something from MySpace other than animated GIF wallpaper and annoying MIDI music, the band grew through early social media connections, and really made the big “click” upon procurement of vocalist Nils Molin, perhaps now best known for his other current gig, vocals in Amaranthe opposite the magnetically metal Elize Ryd. Since the formation of Dynazty, the band has crafted six studio albums, with “The Dark Delight” being the seventh and arguably the boldest of them all.

Nils is flanked on both sides by a capable cadre of Swedish session-grade metal musicians: Love Magnusson and Mike Lavér on guitars, Jonathan Olsson on bass, and George Egg sitting behind the drum kit. As the album begins, the first impression one gets is “modern.” Contemporary. From the sophisticated production and synth work, to the nasty almost John 5 riffing, up to the memorable chorus, “this is where we crash and burn, this is where we start to learn,” it becomes readily apparent that this song is not just polished and ready for 2020, but it has all the markings of a crowd-pleaser at Wacken Open Air or any other Euro power metal festival. Halfway into the song, Nils delivers a somewhat Mustainian lecture on the meaning of life, before the chanting chorus leads us back out of the swirling trance and back to the thundering rhythm section. As album openers go, this one is strong as hell, although it may take two or three goes before it moves into the psyche and makes itself at home.

For a band with ostensibly no full-time keyboard player, the album goes straight-up symphonic metal with the next track, “Paradise of the Architect.” A Pinnella-like keyboard strings section cleanses the pallet and gets us ready for a surprisingly heavy and technical creation. The otherwise-relentless riffage takes small breaks for the verses, before launching into choruses which shift into an uplifting major chorus, before slamming us back into minor chugga-chugga in a darker key. The guitar leads, which were already impressive in the first track, remain equally so here. In the years since metal has returned to glory since exile (and if metal can survive grunge, we can survive any virus), some acts have eschewed or otherwise subdued guitar leads, and in some cases the interplay of melody is already so impressive that the guitar leads are not especially necessary. However, we are still suckers for MurraySmith or MustaineFriedman lead exchanges, so bonus points are awarded to Dynazty all the same.

The next “Dark Delight” on the menu comes in the form of “The Black.” Typically, we only allow Primal Fear to deliver “the black,” but in this instance, the song checks all the right power metal boxes, so despite objections in the courtroom, we will allow it. Cool choruses, nice guitar harmonies, and a part in the middle where it just gets heavy as all hell. Job well done. In another moment of very contemporary metal songwriting, we find the song, “From Sound to Silence.” The drum delivery, the riffs, and even the impressive growls by Nils are all why this album is very firmly on the heavy side of melodic rock and metal. Kudos to the band for the very cool instrumental section in the middle of the track, weaving an impressive and technical tapestry of guitar and rhythms.

“The Dark Delight” Album Artwork

Thankfully, the next track “Hologram” is not a live concert performed by a dead rocker, but rather a borderline metal ballad, with appealing verses and hooky choruses, yet with very heavy transitions in between. The song is followed by “Heartless Madness,” which seems to follow the current Euro power/symphonic metal formula of presenting an isolated track of a single instrument to say to the listener, “Here you go. This is the melody of this song. You might want to write this down. There will be a quiz,” before launching into the song itself, before eventually that same melody comes back as the chorus. It seems to be a staple of the genre since “Nemo,” or perhaps even earlier. However, it does not take away from this song. If the intent of the methodology is to wake people up and say, “hey, dummy, your favorite catchy song is about to start,” then mission accomplished because “Heartless Madness” is indeed a catchy and well-written piece. Yes, if this song was a weapon found at a crime scene, I would guess it belongs to Tuomas Holopainen. On the bright side, the guitar leads are stellar, and light-years beyond anything we ever see on any Nightwish record.

The band have been saving another heavy-hitter for the back side of this record, in the form of “Waterfall,” a melodic chorus-powered rocker. However, the most fun of the song is probably found in the staccato full-auto riffse after the choruses. The rhythms of the song almost come dangerously close to following formulae of modern dance/electronic music, and yet the whole thing just kicks ass, so we’ll turn a blind eye this time. Also, guitar solos. Did we mention this album has them?

On the other end of the spectrum from EDM and guitar solos, we have “The Road to Redemption,” a blues-based rocker with the guitar gain way down low through most of the song. While the chorus is big and climactic, the verses themselves rest on a jangly acoustic and semi-dirty guitar accompaniment. While the songs of this album don’t suffer from homogenized “sameness,” at least Redemption is something truly off the beaten path, so well done on that. This is followed by the title track itself, a grand affair fueled by what can only be described as baroque organ instrumentation, where the guitars are more like a duel between Beethoven and the Phantom of the Opera. Even during the leads, the guitar parts get nearly neoclassical, without quite crossing the line into the territory of that other Swede, the one with the “Y” name.

Dynazty have very likely created their best album to date, in “Dark Delight.”  The songs largely have a uniform sound and heaviness without all sounding the same. In a time where it becomes increasingly true that everything has already been done before, and all we can do is tweak and blend existing styles and genres, this is as close to a new sound as one can reasonably expect to get. It is also largely accessible, and yet not so accessible as to leave nothing for the enjoyment of hardcore metal geeks. It is tried-and-true power metal in a very sleek modern package, with surprises and aspects baked in for everybody. You too can be darkly delighted on 3 April, and if you dig the videos, you would do well to pre-order with your favorite online retailer, or hit the Dynazty website here.

Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: April 3rd, 2020
Genre: Heavy Metal

Musicians:

  • Nils Molin / Vocals
  • Love Magnusson / Guitars
  • Mike Lavér / Guitars
  • Jonathan Olsson / Bass
  • George Egg / Drums

“The Dark Delight” Track-Listing:

 1 – Presence Of Mind
 2 – Paradise Of The Architect
 3 – The Black
 4 – From Sound To Silence (Feat. GG6)
 5 – Hologram
 6 – Heartless Madness
 7 – Waterfall
 8 – Threading The Needle
 9 – The Man And The Elements
10 – Apex
11 – The Road To Redemption
12 – The Dark Delight

8.5 Excellent

Well, Dynazty has done it again, and perhaps better than they ever have. If you love your melodic power metal packed with hooks and memorable riffs, like what you get from Eclipse or One Desire, this new album is very much up your alley

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 8
  • Production 9
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