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Dreamslave

Asguard

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Album Review

There was a time when metal bands needed to fly under the radar in Eastern Europe. Back in the Cold War days, communist regimes thought of metal as subversive — and while metal wasn't impossible to find in Russia, Poland, or the former Czechoslovakia, it was rare and very, very underground. But times have certainly changed; in the post-communist, post-Cold War era, death metal and black metal bands are quite plentiful in parts of Eastern Europe. They aren't outselling Kelly Clarkson, but they can cater to their cult audience of moshers without the fear of being harassed for promoting "counterrevolutionary" activity. One black metal band that has enjoyed a good reputation in the former Soviet Union is Belarus' Asguard, which provides a solid dose of symphonic black metal on Dreamslave. Some black metallers govern by brute force alone, but Asguard prefers something more involved and intricate. This CD is loud and forceful — lead singer Alexander Afonchenko and his colleagues aren't shy about providing their share of blastbeats — but it is also fairly melodic (certainly by death metal/black metal standards) and has a real sense of songcraft. This isn't the type of band that gets all of its inspiration from, say, Marduk or Dark Funeral; Asguard liberally incorporates elements of '80s power metal, combining their black metal intensity with a healthy awareness of old-school headbangers like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ronnie James Dio, and Queensrÿche. Dreamslave isn't innovative; countless other bands in Europe have embraced the symphonic black metal style. But what Dreamslave lacks in originality, it makes up for in terms of quality and craftsmanship — and the disc is worth exploring if one likes some intricacy along with his or her blastbeats.

Biography

Formed: 1996 in Mogilev, Belarus

Genre: Rock

Years Active:

Not to be confused with numerous worldwide heavy metal outfits named Asgard (there's one in Holland, one in Canada, one in Germany, and on and on), the band whose name is spelled Asguard with a "U" hails from the city of Mogilev, in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus. Initially formed as "Ancient Castle," in 1996, by vocalist/bassist Alexander Afonchenko, lead guitarist Andrey Tselobenok, and rhythm guitarist Alexander Krotov, the soon-to-be-renamed Asguard complemented its lineup with drummer...
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Dreamslave, Asguard
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